Election Day

By Sean Carroll | November 6, 2012 7:49 am

Here’s an entertaining explanation of why winner-take-all voting procedures generally evolve into two-party systems, typically forcing most voters to support candidates they don’t always agree with.

But vote anyway! (If you are a US citizen, or a citizen of another municipality which happens to be voting today.) You never know when you might cast the deciding ballot.

I have to go figure out the jillion (okay, eleven) ballot initiatives we have to deal with in the barely-functional direct democracy called California. One of them — Prop 37, which requires labels on certain genetically modified foods — poses an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the science seems to indicate that genetic modification doesn’t introduce any special health risks. (At least not to individuals; there may be deleterious effects on the diversity of food sources, but that’s a different issue.) On the other hand, giving consumers more true information is generally a good idea. Is it a weird kind of reverse-paternalism to not give people correct information because they might take the wrong message from it?

p.s. At the end of our Moving Naturalism Forward workshop, Jerry Coyne offered “I think the best someone can do to move naturalism forward is to vote for Obama.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics
  • MikeW

    Your final sentence reminds me of a interview I heard recently about the Italian seismologists currently under sentence for not communicating earthquake risks. Since a wild-card amateur had been broadcasting a series of messages at the time, it seems they reacted by modifying their communication strategy to minimise panic.

    As to the GM issue, what constitutes GM in the minds of scientists vs lay people? You can argue that the crossbreeding of wheat strains decades ago to produce radically different wheats and flours to what our grandparents ate has been a more potent form of GM than anything that came from explicit gene transplants of the current generation. That dwarf wheat may be one of the major elements in the obesity epidemic, yet few regulators would choose to label most of the bread we eat today as a GM product.

  • Matt

    While I agree that more information is better (in general, I’m happy not seeing the President’s daily security report), watch this video by UCSD professor Steve Briggs. Although not the most exciting presentation in the world, it hits all the reasons why Prop 37 really doesn’t achieve what it’s proponents say it will:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OCvZ3tbZko0

  • Woody Tanaka

    The video was kind of silly. Winner-take-all systems are problematic, but so are every other kind of system. In the US, we form coalitions prior to voting, in parties; in other systems, they for coaltiions after voting, in forming governments.

    Also, on the labeling issue, I think the other effects you mention, which these products have, should at least be as equally of concern as the question of whether these products are safe. Moroever, I think the bad acts of the manufacturers of these genetically modified food products should give everyone pause to give these unaccountable corporations more power over our food supply.

    Further, I assume that this isn’t “reverse paternalism” but is a bought-and-paid-for campaign of opposition by the genetic-modified-food-products industry and their fat cat owners who believe their bank accounts might be affected by people preferring non-genetically altered food to the products they produce. Why else would anyone in his or her right mind oppose it?

  • Woody Tanaka

    @Matt:

    That video is awful (and not just the horrible non-existant production values). Just as one should not hire a lawyer to do an analysis of a scientific subject, that garbage is what you get when you hire a scientist to analyze a legal matter. His analysis is so laughingly off on so many basic points, that no one should take it seriously. He has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to the law.

  • Alex T

    You say “giving consumers more true information is generally a good idea” but are they really getting more true information?

    There are several types of genetic modification, as I’m sure you know, yet they’re all lumped into two crude groups based on their origins not their effects. (Dare I say it, the genetic fallacy?). That means careful, artificial interventions which target specific pre-existing genes get a warning but dousing seeds in mutageneic chemicals or radiation do not. Introducing single genes from a different species artificially requires a warning and millions of dollars in tests; but if genes are “naturally” introduced from other species then they don’t require any warnings nor any tests.

    So what information is really being conveyed, and in what sense is it helpful?

  • STANLEY H. TWEEDLE

    Gary Johnson for president!

  • Wei

    Sean says, “On the other hand, giving consumers more true information is generally a good idea.”

    Is it a good idea to put stickers like “Evolution is a theory, not a fact” to textbooks?

  • Woody Tanaka

    “Is it a good idea to put stickers like ‘Evolution is a theory, not a fact’ to textbooks?”

    He said “true information.” The sticker contains false information, because evolution is, in fact, a fact.

  • Woody Tanaka

    @Alex T,

    “So what information is really being conveyed, and in what sense is it helpful?”

    The information being conveyed is whether or not the food product has been produced in whole or part by genetic engineering and it is helpful because without it, those people who wish to exclude such products from their diet have no way of doing so.

  • James Gallagher

    Yeah label GM food but they should also label organic foods with percentage of fecal contamination found from the particular supplier in the previous year, then let people make a risk assessment between shit infested produce or scientifically crafted superfood

    The problem is too many people aren’t rational when it comes to scientific understanding, they are easily swayed by minority viewpoints appealing to simple fears – vaccines cause autism, radiation is bad, microwave food is bad, mobile phones fry your brain, transmitters fry your brain/mutate your genes/cause cancer, nuclear is bad, the lhc is dangerous, men to Mars we can understand higgs boson, susy we can’t, flouride in toothpaste is bad, any new scientific technology is a potential killer etc etc

    Not the greatest choice betweeen Obama and the other guy, but I’m glad Obama’s gonna win (+300 electoral college votes I bet)

  • Woody Tanaka

    “Yeah label GM food but they should also label organic foods with percentage of fecal contamination found from the particular supplier in the previous year…”

    If enough people are concerned about such things, then propose it. See what the poeple want.

    “The problem is too many people aren’t rational when it comes to scientific understanding…”

    Many aren’t, but that doesn’t mean that whatever the scientific concensus is at the moment is necessary rational, either. Afterall, the scientific concensus was once that nothing ingested by the mother could pass the placental barrier, so what could possibly be the harm in giving pregnant women Thalidomide. Oops.

  • Alex T

    @Woody

    Consumers who, for whatever perverse reason, wish to exclude it from their diets can already do so. “Organic” foods are not allowed to use GMOs because that would be bad or something.

    The label is already available, the question is whether it should be mandatory. As I said, GMO crops have no health or nutritional differences and are tested far more extensively than other genetic modifications.

    You didn’t answer what information is conveyed. GMO-free says nothing about the healthiness, nutritive qualities, allergens or anything else. It doesn’t even tell you whether the food is free from genetic changes since dosing plants with radiation or mutagenic chemicals doesn’t require warnings and would still qualify as “Organic”. It’s a pure fear-mongering.

    Wei asked if it was appropriate to put Evolution scare stickers on textbooks. Absolutely right! (Woody’s reply totally misses the point.) Why should GMOs get scare stickers when all of the so-called “natural” genetic changes pass without comment?

  • Alex T

    @James – good point re: fecal contamination.

    Number of deaths due to GMOs: zero.

    Number of deaths due to Organic fertilizer contamination: dozens to hundreds.

    Maybe we should have a sticker “Warning: organic produce has been linked to kidney failures and death.”

  • James Gallagher

    @Woody #11

    So you would suggest people refrain from taking drugs/medicines because there have been a small number of cases in history where a rogue drug manufacture caused tragedy?

    I mean, should we label all drugs for pregnant women with a disclaimer that the scientific process isn’t perfect (like religious inspiration, or common-sense) and there’s a chance that some undesirable effect may cause the baby or the mother damage?

    Your philosophy would bring progress to a halt, but perhaps that’s what you’d like, quite a lot of people don’t like scientific progress.

  • Woody Tanaka

    @Alex T

    Organic is an under inclusive label. There are no doubt foods which are not geneitically modified food products but which are not organic. This law would permit those people who care about this issue to know which products are and not merely identify some of them by proxy.

    And, yes, I did answer what information is conveyed. The information conveyed is whether or not the food product has been produced in whole or part by genetic engineering. You may think that that information is unimportant but other people don’t. They want to know this information.

    Further, the health issue is a non-starter. This is an issue of labeleing, not food content. Nothing in this law would prevent one food product from appearing on the shelf. Further, those who don’t care are free to ignore the label. Indeed, many people are against these food products for reasons other than potential health issues. I object to them because of the actions of the companies that produce these food products.

    And, no, my reply did not miss the point. The sticker presents absolutely false information. The genetic modification labeling would not. It would present true information, even if limited.

  • Woody Tanaka

    The Thalidomide tragedy wasn’t about a rogue drug manufacturer, it was about the scientific community thinking that what it believed (that nothing could cross the placental barrier) was necessarily so.

    And, yes, we absolutely should probably make pregnant woman and all people aware of the limits of what we know and what we don’t know. I’m sure there were plenty of women back in the “better living through chemicals” days who would have suffered through morning sickness if they were told that the drug which was no doubt touted as safe as GM foods today are (“oh, it’s never shown to be harful…”) might not be so safe after all.

    But what the hell, James, I guess sometimes “scientific progress” feeds on the bodies of deformed babies, amirite?? I mean, it was a shame and all, but who the hell do they think they are, thinking they’re entitled to know whether or not something might be harmful or what they’re ingesting… Ingrates. They should be bowing in the direction of the scientific community, rather than requesting that things be labeled. Because obviously YOU can make a better decision for them about their own lives than they can for themselves, obviously.

  • David_42

    GMO labeling is being pushed by a very small group of people, who (if I may paraphrase Carl Sagan) fear anything they don’t understand and since they don’t understand anything … They demand absolute proof, which exists only in religions and only if you ignore most of the evidence.

  • James Gallagher

    @Woody #16

    I hope you agree that medically trained experts can make a better decision for them (pregnant women) than they can.

    If you don’t agree, who do you suggest pregnant women listen to?

    (Your attitude to modern medicine sounds like the kind Steve Jobs had, it killed him)

  • Woody Tanaka

    #17 David_42, and if that’s the case, then the “anti” side should have nothing to worry about from the vote. If it’s just a small group of people.

    #18 James: No, I don’t. Only they can decide what they want for themselves, because it’s their values that are at stake; only they know what risks are acceptable to them and which are not. Only hubris would say otherwise. Medical experts are useful to convey certain knowledge, but not to make decisions. Which is why it is crucial that those experts give those who are in charge the full information, including potential downsides, and let them know what is not known, unproved or all potential side effects, so that they can decide for themselves what it is that they want.

    And no, cancer killed Steve Jobs. He decided for himself what he wanted, what risks were acceptable and what path he could be at peace with. You can’t see otherwise because you have the hubris that says that you are somehow qualified to make other people’s decisions for them.

  • James Gallagher

    @Woody #19

    Your arguments are so silly I feel it would be cruel to point out all the flaws in public.

    But just in case an ill person or a pregnant women is reading, please trust your doctor, unless you have studied medicine for years you can’t possibly assess the technical information in a sensible way.

    (Obviously, if you are lost to religion or some kind of new-age mysticism, and accept that your rejection of modern science may result in serious illness or your death, then carry on, as long as it harms no others)

  • AG

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/the-rise-of-the-poll-quants-or-the-demise-of-the-tv-pundits/31636

    President Obama has a 99.8-percent chance of winning the election. No need for nail biting.

  • Woody Tanaka

    James #19, if your brave face and boasting what you need to make yourself feel superior, by all means, feel free.

    And in case an ill person or pregnant woman is reading, please consider the input from your doctor, get a second opinion, and make a fully informed decision based on what is right for you.

    (Obviously, if you consider yourself to be nothing but a test subject to the hubris of “scientific progress” or desire to subject yourself to the whims of people who think they are more qualified to make decisions about what you want with your life than you are, then please, see James Gallagher. No doubt he will tell you how to dress and comb your hair, too.)

  • James Gallagher

    @Woody #22

    Unless you have studied the relevant science for some years you can’t make a “fully informed” decision, you have to trust people who have devoted some years to studying the relevant science, otherwise you’re just guessing.

    That was my original point, you can’t have a rational opinion about subjects of which you know little. This hasn’t stopped the likes of Woody and countless other hack scientists promoting scaremongering and general irrational shit. Unfortunately only a small number of people have the dedication and talent to actually understand and contribute usefully to science. Whereas the Woody’s of the world are a dime a dozen.

    (btw, getting a second opinion is fine, as long as it’s from another doctor, and not some weird guru figure)

  • Woody Tanaka

    James Gallagher, you need to get your head out of your ass because you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again. (You’re also fighting a whole batallion of strawmen, giving your repeated fixation with new-age religions and gurus.)

    Someone who has devoted years to the relevant science can supply facts. No one said they can’t. But studying that science does not given them any basis to make a decision for someone else, let alone a “better” one, because that type of decision making requires things in addition to the scientific facts, like values and preferences and judgment of acceptability of risk. Only the person who is being affected can make those decisions, and they can only do that if the person studying the science understands the limitations of his role and the limitations of their knowledge. A woman with breast cancer might opt for something other than what you, as science master of decision making might wish to impose upon her, because the things she’s bringing to the equation are different from what you think she should think. Again, your hubris.

    How many children would have been saved if the pregnant woman didn’t blindly “trust” the doctors who devoted years to study and gave them Thalidomide anyway, without telling them, “well, we really don’t know for sure if it can have a bad affect on your baby, but we don’t think it can get past the placenta, but we really don’t know.” How many of those women would have opted to just put up with the morning sickness or find a different treatment if the experts had been honest about what they didn’t know and about what they hadn’t tested. But, no, the experts (akin to those you say we shoudl all trust) probably said, “Take the drug, trust me. Who’s the doctor here? I know what I’m doing. I can make a better decision for you than you can for yourself.”

    And to bring it back to the subject at hand, regarding GM foods, a person might say, “it’s not enough for me that there’s been no demonstration of harm. If they can’t positively demonstrate that it’s safe, I’d rather not eat them,” it’s not up to you to make the decision for them as to whether that level of risk-averseness is acceptable or not.

  • max

    Wow, a political-ish blog post turns into a shouting match? What is the internet coming to?

    What I’d really like to see is a proposition demanding pesticide labeling for food. Packaging would tell you something like pounds of pesticide used per acre, and what the primary pesticide used is. This would allow us to get at the root of what lots of people dislike about Monsanto without the anti-science mentality of GMO labeling.

  • James Gallagher

    @Woody #24

    It’s not the food labeling itself which I mind, it’s the fact that so many silly people are behind campaigns for GM labeling, especially with their unreconstructed genetics = nazis type ideas, and clearly in your case, modern medicine = evil drug companies type nonsense.

    Why can’t you people just be sensible, chillax a bit, you know?

    I’m off to see if Romney gives up his religion after the humiliating defeat he’s about to suffer, so won’t be able to reply to any more of your funnies.

  • Woody Tanaka

    “This would allow us to get at the root of what lots of people dislike about Monsanto without the anti-science mentality of GMO labeling.”

    Max, I think you’re making the same mistake as James, here. What these people want to know is whether or not the food product has been produced in whole or part by genetic engineering. It’s kind of hubristic for you to say that what they should really want is something other than what they say they want. Because, frankly, while some want to know about pesticides, not all of them do, and many of them don’t at all, but do want to know which food products are produced in whole or part by genetic engineering for other reasons.

    Nor is wanting such labeling “anti-science.”

  • Woody Tanaka

    “It’s not the food labeling itself which I mind, it’s the fact that so many silly people are behind campaigns for GM labeling,”

    And you present yourself as the voice of reason… so are we supposed to conclude that if a lot of silly people were behind a campaign to eradicate polio, you’d be against it?

    “especially with their unreconstructed genetics = nazis type ideas, and clearly in your case, modern medicine = evil drug companies type nonsense.”

    Keep fighting those strawmen, James. One day, you’re bound to win.

    “Why can’t you people just be sensible, chillax a bit, you know?”

    Ha! Let’s see, there’s a simple proposal that calls for a label on food that you are free to simply ignore to your heart’s content, but some people would find helpful to them. You’re reaction is to, essentially, say they are anti-science and are going to bring progress to a halt, are scaremongerers and you have the nerve to say that someone else needs to chillax a bit???? Oh, that’s right, you’re the master decider who is in a better position to make decisions for everyone else than they, themselves are.

  • MikeW

    Woody @27 Looking at the legislation, it’s not clear that it really addresses what “these people” want. If they don’t understand the broad spectrum of what GM means then they’ll be alternately panicked and lulled into a false sense of security by mislabelling and misrepresentation. My guess is that “these people” really want a label that says “this product is 101% safe and has been blessed by angels”, because for a lot of their concerns they may as well have a label that says “was transported in a blue truck” because of the lack of relevancy to their real concerns.

  • max

    I don’t think I did say what other people want. I said what I want. Would you not want to know what pesticides are in your food? There’s nothing stopping us from having both pesticide and gmo labeling (except of course big ag, money, technical feasibility…), but I personally care more about the former.

  • Jennifer West

    Woody Tanaka – your arguments are awesome, sane calm and logical – I cannot believe you have the stamina for this thread but I am so glad you do. A million thanks.

    A note on the GMO safety issue – namely, how difficult it is to get independent scientific tests done when the Monsantos and Du Ponts have patented the seeds, and must give permission for studies on them – please read the following article from Yale 360, it’s also awesomely fact based and logical:

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/companies_put_restrictions_on_research_into_gm_crops/2273/

    Cheers!

  • Jennifer West

    In case I was not clear, for the California voters like me:

    YES on 37.

    Right to know what we are eating. Especially important for me because I hate GMO produce and the companies that produce the produce.

    Cheers.

  • Jennifer West

    p.s. what max said. well, part of what max said.

  • James Gallagher

    @ Jennifer

    “hate” – very scientific, kinda making my point above about the type of people supporting the GM labeling (which isn’t in itself a bad idea)

    What exactly would you do with the precise scientific evidence – have you studied genetics for long enough to make you competent to assess scientific papers in agricultural genetics?

    Do you think drug companies and similar should make all their research public for lay people like you? Do you see why that might make it less likely for them to ever be able to afford to do the research? If their competitors can steal all their ideas how would they fund their operations?

    Do you not trust private (market funded) scientific research?

    Do you not like the market and capitalism generally?

  • James Gallagher

    And your scientific friends who might pretend they are competent had better show some proven record. I would respect the analysis of two or three well-proven researchers in the field – ie people who have actually produced something worthy rather than just spent their post-graduate years carping about stuff.

    You know – just find some non marxist decent scientists who have a proven track record and agree that GM crops are dangerous – rather than the usual failed scientists who never published anything worthwhile.

  • Haelfix

    Prop 37 is nonsense. Assume you were an organic tomato producer and had to label all your product in big letters with the words “Containing hydrogen dioxide”.
    You would instantly lose 20% of your customers and you would cry foul at government regulation that forces you to label your food, when it is clearly and scientifically verified to be safe.

    The converse is fine imo. Its ok to label your food “organic” if the producer chooses.

  • Kass

    I am a fan of thinking about voting in an analytical manner, but the expected value calculation in the cited blog post is quite ridiculous! The assumtions made are unrealistic, to say the least…and lead to a completely differenct conclusion than what is normally found.

  • N.

    @Haelfix:

    Now if you label your food “organic”, does it not implicate that all other products are “inorganic” or even “anorganic”?

    How silly can this get?

    On the other hand, label your product “DOES NOT CONTAIN SULPHURIC ACID” and you’ll win some 20% of customers :) )

    Then, label it “DOES NOT CONTAIN SULPHURIC ACID, has been GENETICALLY MODIFIED” and your customer will be able to decide whether to buy it or not, on the basis that he/she has all the relevant information available. In accordance with the above quotation of Carl Sagan’s.

  • James Gallagher

    No, if you label food “organic” it means it was produced in a similar way to how people did things in the middle ages.

    Are you saying that organic producers should be allowed to hide this fact from customers? (by not labling their food as “organic” ~ “same as in the middle ages”)

  • Haelfix

    A producer should be able to label whatever they want on their goods, provided that it is scientifically accurate.

    The FDA does not count GM crops as ‘organic’ (which is bizarre, but ok a word is whatever you want to define it as). Consequently if the consumer does not want to buy GM crops, then they may look for the word ‘organic’ on their label and purchase that instead. That is as it should be.

    What would be crazy is if the government arbitrarily FORCED a random subset of producers to label all their foods as containing ‘carbon’ with the ensuing ~20% drop. Doing that has no health benefit to the public and would almost assuredly be struck down in the courts.

    See the difference?

  • MikeW

    James @39: “it means it was produced in a similar way to how people did things in the middle ages.”

    I want my food labelled FREE FROM WITCHCRAFT.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    “Winner-take-all systems are problematic, but so are every other kind of system.”

    A commonly heard argument, but wrong. Yes, perhaps no system is perfect, but many systems are much better than winner-take-all. That’s like saying that you shouldn’t worry if someone decides to torture you by throwing acid in your face since in the next cell someone else was tortured with the comfy chair.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    The US election system (I hesitate to call it “democracy”) is only marginally better than a dictatorship. Bad enough, but consider what large fraction of US citizens believe it is the best system in the world.

    Another effect of a two-party system: the popular vote is always close, because when a party is down in the polls, it will change its position to get up to 51% or whatever, and the other party does the same. Less and the party loses; more and they move more than they have to.

  • Richard M

    The principle in the video is known as Duverger’s law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_law). IRV (or alternative vote as its called in the follow-up video) helps with this, but the spoiler effect is still there, and IRV introduces another problem, nonmonoticity. It’s actually possible to reduce a candidate’s chance of winning by ranking that candidate higher on your ballot, under certain uncommon but feasible circumstances. I would hate to see that kind of unintended consequence happen.

    Approval voting avoids the spoiler effect, Duverger’s law, and nonmonotonicity.

    I’m surprised nobody brought up Arrow’s Theorem in this discussion. Interestingly, because Arrow’s Theorem only applies to systems that allow ranking of candidates (as opposed to rating), the negative effects of that theorem are missing in approval voting (which is a rating system with only two values, 0 for disapprove and 1 for approve).

    What are the chances we will see a saner voting system in the US in our lifetimes? Not very high, I fear.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    Indeed, chances are slim.

    Note that while it might not be perfect, PR is so much better than anything else (though, of course, STP is better than first past the post) that no country without PR should be called a democracy.

  • Naitelcoid

    I did not vote, and this is fact the most empowering position that can be adopted. For decades I have voted third party, but, like millions of others, decided that in this election I would not be naively used to legitimize an undemocratic proceeding. Some will argue that candidates like Stein and Johnson are denied TV coverage and participation in debates with the vapid corporate offerings because they lack sufficient following, but this is a confusion of cause and effect.

    Despite the expenditure of some 2-3 billion dollars on the so-called election process, none of the major issues the world faces was addressed by either of the Establishment candidates. In the midst of the storm of the century, neither so much as mentioned the scientific possibility of induced climate change. In Colorado, although more people voted to legalize marijuana than voted for Romney, the so-called war on drugs was not mentioned at any time in the campaigns of either of the two corporate-selected candidates let alone in the three major televised debates. Although our hope-and-change president was elected in 2008 as a backlash to the abuses of Bush and on the promises of ending the ME wars and returning the soldiers to the US, nothing was made of his total negation of his promise or his expansion of war into Libya, Yemen, Syria or the preparations for war on Iran on the false basis of a “nuclear [weapons] program.” And despite his promises of repealing Bush’s unconstitutional abuses of civil liberties ( such as torture and domestic spying ) Guantanamo remains open, and Obama has in fact further attacked liberty by instituting a domestic drone-spying program and asserting for himself the powers of, on his word alone and without a hearing or presentation of charges, indefinite detention for US citizens and, further, his claim and exercise of his personal power to order the execution of US citizens without judicial review.

    Neither of the candidates saw fit to mention any of these major issues during their campaigns, nor did their examiners during the televised debates. Rather, any mention of the real major issues was sidelined in favor of a competition between the two candidates as to who will show the greater degree of bellicosity toward Iran and other nations and who will be the more vigorous in slashing entitlement programs to free up more money for warfare and the wealth of the .01%. So in the worst global economic conditions and the highest level of unemployment since the Depression, Americans were offered a choice between two men, both of whom intend to continue with the transfer of wealth to the .01% whom they serve and who will continue with the destruction of liberty and the expansion of global conflict.

    I am hardly alone in my decision to refrain from voting. Obama received on Tuesday 60.5 million votes, a drop from 69.5 million votes in 2008; Romney received 57.5 million votes, 2.5 million fewer than John McCain in 2008.

    Every one of us who has intensively studied physics used up, at least in the beginning, lots of erasers before catching on. It’s no big deal to be wrong and then to make some corrections in learning something new. So, if you’re going to be political, then use your brain and use your magnificent platform to save the world. This election was not about proposition 37.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    @#46: While I agree with many of your sentiments, the fact that you didn’t vote doesn’t help you advance your goals one bit. Yes, the lesser of two evils is not an attractive choice, but it is better than no choice at all.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    #45: STP –> STV (single transferable vote). PR is, of course, proportional representation: if you get x% of the vote, you get x% of the seats in parliament, where x% of the vote corresponds to the entire geographical region represented in parliament. Anything else is just stupid.

  • Richard M

    Naitelcoid: “For decades I have voted third party, but, like millions of others, decided that in this election I would not be naively used to legitimize an undemocratic proceeding.”

    Too funny! I like how you and those millions of others have been so successful in changing this over the past 200 or so years.

  • Younger Cato

    When pushing “naturalism” and going along with the two-party groupthink is more important than voting your conscience, rejecting the “lessor of two evils” meme, rejecting a destructive and bipartisan foreign policy, rejecting the bipartisan destruction of our civil liberties, then we’ve really got our priorities mixed up. A vote for Obamney is a vote for Robama. You should be smart enough to figure that out.

    Consequentialism is irresponsible and morally bankrupt.

  • Younger Cato

    To those who feel the need to know what they’re eating: Do your research!

    If you really care, do the work to find out! Or don’t buy if you don’t trust. Quit being lazy and relying on coercion in order to make your life easier. It’s immoral.

  • Naitelcoid
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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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