Re: [pcp-discuss:] Probleming through Florida

From: John J Kineman (
Date: Thu Nov 30 2000 - 23:52:00 GMT

  • Next message: Norman K. McPhail: "Re: [pcp-discuss:] Probleming through Florida"

    Just an added thought. I think there is a major question of semantics
    involved in the election process. I raised this in the article I wrote
    ( It is whether we believe that a vote is a
    survey of voter preference, or a contest. If it is a survey, than it is
    a sample of a larger population, with estimable variances. A statistical
    tie can be quantified, below which the index (the vote) no longer
    indicates anything, and the small differences are uninteresting. At that
    point one must invoke another process, such as the electoral college
    (suitably modified to make it a decision making body), the legislature,
    and ultimately Congress; with the Judicial making sure it all passes on
    properly. If, on the other hand, it is perceived as a game or contest,
    then the loss of indicative value of small differences is completely
    irrelevant - the contest gets even more interesting as the outcome
    hinges on narrower and narrower margins, just like a game show or
    football game. The public and media is so used to the second model that
    it was a full week before I heard any intelligent statements about
    uncertainties and ties.

    This difference in meaning also determines how we structure the process.
    I was referred to a proposal that State elections were a way to
    "maximize" voter "power" with power defined as the chances that any one
    voter will be able to cast the "deciding" vote. In a gaming/contest
    scenario, one would want to maximize that, but in a survey scenario one
    would want to minimize it.

    My own conclusion was that the Electoral College could be transformed
    into a useful arbitor of elections if we had proportional allocation of
    electors instead of the "winner-take-all" rules that are part of the
    gaming paradigm. In the present situation that would have given Gore and
    Bush a tie, or nearly so, with about 10 electors for Nader. College
    rules could be adopted so that those distributions could be run off to a
    final pair, and even debated if it is a tie. In the rare case that it is
    hung, and nobody can be convinced to change their vote, then it would go
    to the Congress. The proportional allocation would greatly minimize the
    current legal and legislative maneuvering, because it would at most
    affect only one elector. Also, the number of total electors (538) sets
    the definition for a statistical tie (2/538. or about .4%.

    "Norman K. McPhail" wrote:
    > Steve:
    > As I read through my last reply, I found that there was another point I
    > wanted to add. I wanted to say that usually there are better ways to
    > solve our problems that going through government and the political
    > processes. In most cases, we can achieve our goals much easier and
    > faster by figuring out direct ways to satisfy our wants and needs. This
    > is one of the points you made and I'm simply agreeing with you.
    > As I view probleming, it means considering a whole range of problems and
    > changing the problems we choose to solve so they fit solutions that are
    > more likely to succeed. This process is specifically intended to side
    > step the zero sum games we often get sucked into in the political arena.
    > I think Harry Browne's book, HOW I FOUND FREEDOM IN AN UNFREE WORLD, is
    > the best popular work advocating this way of thinking. Personally, I
    > think he goes too far in down playing the importance of our deep
    > connections with each other. But he readily admits that he overstated
    > his arguments to make a point.
    > Norm
    > Norm
    > "Norman K. McPhail" wrote:
    > >
    > > Steve:
    > >
    > > Most, if not all, politicians look for problems mainly to serve their
    > > own ends. To the extent they try to implant us with problems they want
    > > us to ask them to resolve, they create their own problems. But if we
    > > accept these problems as our own, we may forego giving voice to some
    > > issues we are much more concerned about. Also, if we accept these
    > > implanted problems rather than asserting our personal choices, we can
    > > very well fall prey to the polarizing you speak of.
    > >
    > > The thing to keep in mind is that these political processes are not
    > > linear. They are circular, self referencing and iterative. So what we
    > > end up with is a continuing flow of ideas amongst all the participants
    > > in the political processes. We all participate in these informational
    > > political processes whether we are aware of them or not. But this
    > > community of information exchange should not prevent us from searching
    > > our souls and trying to figure out what is in our personal interest as
    > > well as our collective interest.
    > >
    > > One final point: I don't think most politicians are engaged in
    > > probleming as such. Most of us usually think of problems as a passive
    > > or fixed element that we seek to deal actively deal with and/or solve.
    > > I just used the fact that politicians concentrate more on problems
    > > rather than solutions to illustrate why we ought to consider problems as
    > > an active component in our thought processes. In other words, the
    > > problem here is the way we usually think about problems. Problems are a
    > > problem.
    > >
    > > Norm
    > >
    > > steve wrote:
    > > >
    > > > >
    > > >
    > > > Norm -
    > > >
    > > > Quite eloquent and I have to agree.
    > > >
    > > > However...
    > > >
    > > > What to do about a populace (we, ourselves)
    > > > who is willing to join said politicians in this
    > > > "Probleming"...
    > > >
    > > > I personally don't want them to "Problem"
    > > > for me. I personally want "all the things
    > > > that I want" but understand that "wanting
    > > > and having" is a whole 'nother thing.
    > > >
    > > > Somehow the Politicians (and media?)
    > > > by "Probleming" have completely moved
    > > > us away from trying to understand what
    > > > we want and how best to get it, how to
    > > > align and adjust our wants so that not
    > > > everything is a polarized zero-sum
    > > > game.
    > > >
    > > > > Now that you've seen this classic example of how problems can change to
    > > > > fit solutions, perhaps you may think about using this approach the next
    > > > > time you run up against another strange chaotic situation. And just in
    > > > > case you were wondering if this whole approach has a name, I like to
    > > > > call it, Probleming.
    > > >
    > > > So as a member of a self-organizing collective (this list, the country,
    > > > the world), I am seeking ways to break/supplant/undermine the memes
    > > > that keep us chasing our tails in these situations. If "Probleming" is
    > > > the Problem, then what is the Answer?
    > > >
    > > > Or is this, in fact, the true Problem?
    > > >
    > > > -steve
    > > >
    > > > ========================================
    > > > Posting to from steve <>
    Posting to from "John J Kineman" <>

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