Thursday, 26 May 2011

Confidence and Ignorance

In his book "The Moral Landscape" Sam Harris writes "... the less competent a person is in a given domain, the more he will tend to overestimate his abilities. This often produces an ugly marriage of confidence and ignorance that is very difficult to correct for."
It seems to me that this is a fundamental problem of direct democracy and perhaps central to the argument for representative democracy where power resides with politicians who are expected to study a subject in detail. Yet it's a problem that the Swiss have overcome, perhaps because voters gain an expertise in doing politics through the effort they put into governing their local communes and cantons. At the very least by exposure to many and various views people may come to appreciate the complexity of any particular issue.
Interactive Democracy facilitates a wide spread of views to be presented to the voter on the voting site, with special importance given to those of politicians, in whose interest it is to articulate a cogent case: when it comes time for the next general election the electorate will judge them not only on their values and conclusion but on their rationale.

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