Rebirth of Reason

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 3:16pmSanction this postReply
Good article, Ed.

If the GOP had put up a descent candidate, one who was strongly opposed to ObamaCare, and who was NOT a social conservative, I think we would have seen about 50% of the libertarian vote move to the that GOP candidate, and maybe 1% of the McAuliffe vote (representing people who hate religious positions in politics more than big government positions), and about 10% of the woman's vote would have shifted from McAuliffe to the replacement for Cuccinelli.

There would be a loss of intensity that some of the religious right bring to their candidates, and some of the funds they raise, but most would still vote, and most would vote for the more fiscally conservative candidate.

It would have been a landslide for the GOP. They'll learn... or become extinct - soon.

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 11/06, 3:18pm)

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 4:59pmSanction this postReply
So, there's been alot of talk like this:


Not the only source. Levin was barking about this last night on the radio.

I don't know Sarvis from Popeye.

Real? Spin? Internet noise? The battle of the in-ter-net cut and paste noise machine churns on.

Would I believe it could be done-- propping up a false flag libertarian to split the vote and throw the race?

What would prevent it-- the left's sense of decency and fair play overcoming their win at any cost bloodlust?

An informed and intelligent electorate?

A press corps that is constantly on the lookout for such issues, and that always reports these things fairly?

Suppose he was a legit libertarian candidate. 7% of the vote in VA? At what point do folks start seeing the GOP as taking votes away from the libertarian solution????

Notice that both the Dems and GOP despise the libertarians for pretty much the same reason; they see libs as a threat to the tag team do-nothing gig they've got going for decades.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4:29amSanction this postReply
Excellent piece, Ed.

Libertarian candidates can be election spoilers, something which might be referred to as the Ross Perot effect -- but the issue has more than one level (which you effectively outlined). You can't solve a problem on the level it was created. I often look at the scientific research behind human interaction (in pairs, groups, and populations). A common question is: Why do people cooperate with one another? Another way to propose the question is: How could you get people to cooperate with one another? Another, more basic, way to ask the question is: What matters? An even more basic way to study the issue is to talk about "agents" (entities which exercise choices according to goals or preferences).

In one study, it was discovered that agents didn't cooperate well with one another if only 3 strategies of interaction were employed. However, if you added a fourth strategy to the mix, then they did! Did you catch that? With 3 strategies, they failed to cooperate and, under any pressure from competition, would go extinct (not just fail to thrive, but fail to even survive). With 4 strategies, they were off to the races. What happened? The fourth strategy added was called Tit-for-Tat and it is a stand-in for the concept of retaliatory justice (if you cheat, I will punish you; if you don't, I will reward you).

In a similar vein, libertarian candidates can perform this useful -- I was say even vital -- function (when the system is not aimed at justice). You talk about how the GOP needs improvement and you are right. The reason we know this? Because a libertarian candidate can just walk in and upset the election. Now, you say that it didn't fully matter (that the election would still be lost without the libertarian, though by an even smaller margin). But it does fully matter in the conceptual sense. The difference of one degree of heat can fully matter (if you are on the brink of freezing).

People who love freedom should not disparage 3rd Party candidates who upset elections. This is the appropriate outcome when your party sucks. In fact, in order to help the Democrats improve their party, the GOP should fund a Green Party candidate in every election cycle. It is a mistake to think that 3rd Party candidates are preventing the attainment of objective values (e.g., freedom): They are the only thing going right now to steer us in the right direction.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 7:17pmSanction this postReply
There is something striking about the study I linked to above that I want to share, but first let me provide a quote from the study:
Here we present an exact calculation that allows us to study the evolutionary dynamics of WSLS and TFT under mutation, selection and random drift in finite populations and in the presence of noise. We consider a population of N individuals. Each individual derives a payoff by interacting with (a representative ensemble of) all other individuals. The fitness of an individual is given by a constant, representing the baseline fitness, plus the payoff from the game. ...

In summary, we have studied stochastic game dynamics in populations of finite size under the influence of both mutation and selection. We consider the infinitely repeated PD with noise. Players make mistakes when implementing their strategies. In a population consisting of the three strategies, ALLC, ALLD and TFT, we find that the equilibrium distribution of our evolutionary process is entirely centered on ALLD. In contrast, a population consisting of ALLC, ALLD and WSLS settles predominantly on WSLS provided the benefit-to-cost ratio exceeds three, b/c > 3. Otherwise the system chooses ALLD. Finally, we have studied a population consisting of four strategies, ALLC, ALLD, TFT and WSLS. If b/c > 2 then WSLS is selected, otherwise ALLD is selected. Note that TFT lowers the selection threshold for WSLS, but is never chosen itself. Tit-for-tat is the catalyst for the emergence of cooperation, but win-stay, lose-shift is its target.
Okay, so you can see that they were modeling evolutionary, agent-based exchange. You can also see that, when they included agents that always cooperate (ALLC), agents that always defect (ALLD), and agents that treat you as you treat them (TFT; "an eye for an eye" retaliatory justice), the outcome was a population still littered with screw-your-neighbor hucksters. Also, when they included agents that always cooperate (ALLC), agents that always defect (ALLD), and agents that flip sides when you either punish them for their "vice" (their defection) or fail to reward them for their "virtue" (their cooperation) [WSLS], then you get such contingent cooperation (WSLSs will always cooperate if you reward them for it) but only IF the benefits of cooperation are over 3 times the costs.

Here's the striking thing. If you take those same 3 groups of intermingled sub-populations, and you "inoculate" them with some 'justice-junkies' (TFT-ers who always reward virtue and always punish vice), then -- without ever becoming dominant in the society -- cooperation increases (because the threshold for cooperation is lowered by a full third). Applied to real life, what this means is that even if Libertarian candidates never win, but they still continue to run in elections, then they will improve the outcome for "society." All it takes is a seat at the table, not at the head of the table, but simply a seat at the table. All it takes is showing up. Think about it: a real-life instance where a "participation trophy" is warranted! However, if political figures prevent Libertarian candidates from running (or if Bi-Partisan Commissions prevent them from taking part in presidential debates), then the evil continues unabated. Ask yourself what they are afraid of, when they refuse to let someone who loves freedom and justice speak.

I have shown earlier about how only a fourth of society needs to be interested in justice -- in order to have a predominately-just society. This study confirms that point. TFT agents never predominated (they may never have even made up as little as one-third of the population!), but they totally affected the outcome.


(Edited by Ed Thompson on 11/13, 7:28pm)

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