Are rational decisions better than emotional ones? I would say "Yes", because rational decisions may not only include our instinctive responses, but a wealth of other data and opinions.
Are some people much better able to make rational decisions? Would we rather these people were in positions of authority, making decisions for the rest of us? This may be a plausible argument in favour of Parliamentary Democracy and against Direct (or Interactive) Democracy.
So, what factors would increase rationality in decisions made by the electorate in the Interactive Democracy system?
- Time: slowing down the decision making process allows us to gather more information.
- Truth: collecting hard evidence can undermine our assumptions and give our decisions stronger foundations.
- Perspective: our initial decisions are formed from our own perspective, but other inputs, over time, can encourage us to consider other points of view.
- Values: understanding what we value most, and realising that others may value something else more, can build a rationale for making a decision.
- Cost: carefully predicting the costs involved should have a strong influence on a decision.
- Probability: unfortunately, most decisions involve estimates of costs and outcomes; having a clear understanding of the chances involved should impact a decision.
Designing an Interactive Democracy web site that presents peer reviewed data at the point of decision could discourage irrational decisions. The web site could allow voters to rank the most important values, encouraging clarification of ideas. There should be the facility to conduct an online debate, with links, threads and approval ratings, but with the opinions of MPs taking precedence (they are practiced in making a case, communicating it, and are motivated to do it well by the prospect of re-election). Peer reviewed reports and hard data should also be made available and properly audited estimates of the costs involved.