Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rational Citizens will Succeed by August 2013

We have been successful in getting the word out to our constituants and stakeholders.

By removing the data from the first 6 days, we can more easily see that we have entered the linear doubling phase of growth.

Now we have to keep up the pace, or get even wiser on how to keep our message growing until everybody across Canada is on board.

We need 23 doublings to get every eligible voter in Ontario to be aware of the issue.  We currently have 10.62 doublings under our belt.  Based on the current linear rate of doubling our exposure, we will have achieved our 23 doublings by July 24, 2013.

Once we have everybody's ear, we can explain our case.

Bryan Caplin, an Economist at George Mason University in the US wrote the book "The Myth of the Rational Voter" For those more inclined, there is an entertaining  YouTube video by Bryan, and a related video TEDxMileHigh Talk by Michael Huemer.  Bryan and Michael speak about the "Rational Ignorance" of the public.  They propose that most people don't understand the issues because it makes sense not to.  This is explained by:
  1. Rationality requires effort, money, and time to become informed (ie. it is difficult & expensive).
  2. People are only willing to pay the cost when the rewards exceeds the costs.
  3. The probability that one person can influence the outcome of a vote or a public policy is close to zero.
  4. Most people can live a happy, functional life in spite of irrational ideas on numerous topics
  5. We usually hang out with people who are like minded, so we're not exposed to conflicting ideas.
  6. We can have strong opinions on an issue even when we are ignorant on that issue.
  7. Getting informed will likely cause us great frustration and anxiety as we are forced to change our beliefs so as to match the facts rather than our prior assumptions (ie. cognitive dissonance).
  8. We can easily dismiss people who disagree with us (ie. they are evil, biased, or ignorant).
It is suggested that all 8 of these reasons apply to our chicken struggle, and Canada's Supply Management system.

Bryan Caplin suggests that the vast majority of citizens will correctly choose to remain ignorant on the subject, and they will tend to split their opinions on a equal basis for or against the issue (ie. a random coin toss).

They also suggest that the smart politician (ie. those who want to stay in office, and/or do what's in the best interest of the public) must pay attention to those citizens who are well informed on the issue, and act accordingly.

The small percentage of voters who choose to become well informed (ie. willing to pay the private cost due to private benefits and the grand social benefits) will tend to be rational, and if we can demonstrate there are rational, overwhelming reasons for what we propose, then we will carry the day and the necessary changes will be made.

There is a test to see if you have chosen to be part of the biased, irrational, ill informed majority:
  1. Do you become angry when discussing this issue?
  2. Do you have strong opinions before collecting objective data on this issue?
  3. Do your opinions stay the same as you become exposed to objective data that conflicts with your current beliefs?
If you answer one or more of the above 3 questions with "Yes" or "Sometimes", then there is a good chance that you are one of the biased, ill-informed, irrational citizens.

All the above makes sense to me.  So for those who are reading this, thank-you for your patience and interest in this issue.

I will continue assuming that both you and I:
  • Have chosen to pay the personal costs for becoming better informed.
  • Are willing to suffer the momentary frustrations for learning and changing our opinions as we learn.
  • Are willing and able to influence others, especially our bureaucrats and politicians.
  • Will be successful in our efforts, for bureaucrats and politicians have a keen sense of when there is a sea change occurring in public opinion, and it is suicide to act in a way that is contrary to the views of the informed citizen.

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