Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Rolling the dice for President

According to some recent research the process of selecting a President may be even less predictable than rolling dice.

Sociologists have found that when large networks of people evaluate something together their conclusions are not only powerfully shaped by the views of others, but by the network that binds them together. Washington Post columnist Shankar Vedantam speculates on the effect these findings may have on the selection of a President in Vote Your Conscience. If You Can.

The decisive factor, according to the studies, is not the presence of influential people but of people who are easily influenced. "Random, insignificant events are vastly magnified by networks of such malleable people influencing one another, and this tilts the race one way or another. Blind chance plays a big role," writes Vedantam.

This is a sobering thought. Those of us who take our politics seriously must not take it too seriously. All of the soundest of logic and highest of morality in the world could still lead to an unexpected result.

I suppose in a way this is a good thing, because it prevents any one faction from gaining unassailable control. But on the other hand I can't help thinking it leaves us all rudderless in an ocean of storms.


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