Saturday, 11 June 2016

Given two choices and ignorance, the outcome will be 50:50

If Carlsberg did 'Remain' arguments for the UK referendum it would probably be the one I received this morning from a good friend. I publish it with his permission.


I have being thinking and I have different take on this now.

It goes like this: Would the population of the UK trust me (alone) to make the decision to Leave or Remain? No, of course not. Why? Because I am unqualified, I have no track record, I have not spent anywhere near enough time considering the facts AND because the two sides advising me how to vote cannot even agree on the facts.

So if you would not trust me, then why should I trust any of you? Multiplying this up by the whole of the UK voting public does not create a statistically better informed decision - we are all ignorant.

What is scandalous is that the 600 professional politicians chosen, democratically, by this population to rule us cannot agree. If David cannot persuade Boris and Boris cannot persuade David then clearly the decision is very very far from straightforward. Indeed it makes you wonder why we should trust them (all of them) with the NHS, defence or welfare if they cannot even agree within their own parties on Leave or Remain.

And very sadly that leads me on to why, for all the wrong reasons, I think we should Remain. Not because I can muster a whole load of sound economic, social, business or sovereignty arguments. Why should you believe me if I did? No, it's because Remain is what we know now and we should not expect millions of ignorant UK voters to make the right choice. Being in the EU may be utterly terrible as many of you say, but when you say we will be better out you just don't know. It's not that you are wrong, it's that neither you nor I are qualified to opine.

Being in the EU or out should be a matter for politicians. The EU is a "how" not a "what". It may be the best way for the UK to regulate its trade. It might very well not. Democratic voting should be about asking the general public "what" they want. Not "how" they think we should get it.

And the current outcome in the opinion polls could be explained by the simple reasoning that if you give a large number of people a choice between A or B, when they have no idea which logical choice to make, and you will get 50:50

A large flock of sheep are eating grass in a field. Two farmers enter the field. One says the grass is greener in the next field. The other farmer says it is better where they are. Then they tell the sheep to decide what to do.

The real response of the sheep should be "You're the bloody farmers!"

The real point is that the politicians should not be asking us what to do in the first place.


And just to balance up the sides, here is AEP's declaration and reasoning for voting to Leave.


Anonymous said...

Wow, a true contrarian. Leaning towards Leave when Remain was polling ahead, now switching to Remain when Leave is polling ahead.
But very good point made by your friend.

Polemic said...

Anon - I wouldn't read anything in to my leanings. It is a hugely complex issue and there are great arguments on both sides. I think we would all respect campaigners more if they acknowledged that there are fors and againsts in both sides.

I just found my friends argument heading off in a different direction to the usual pro/anti shouts and so worth considering.

TheRaven said...

I dont think the argument really works. The fact that people dont agree is not a sign of lack of expertise but differing values, utilities and beliefs. I dont believe there is a universally right decision because the outcome effects people in different ways.

The two other issues are how do we decide who the expert would be and the fact they dont have enough skin in the game.

After all what expertise do politicians have other than an ability to campaign and stand for election? And if any class is truly insulated from the results of the choice it will be the experts.

Polemic said...

I do actually agree with you Raven

Nic said...

You argue that "Democratic voting should be about asking the general public "what" they want. Not "how" they think we should get it."
That is exactly what this referendum is .. the question is Do we want to be self governed or do we want to hand that over to the EU who are not accountable or elected?
The arguments about how things might be or how much they will cost after Brexit are nonsense - no one knows. The only thing we would know is that our politicians will decide.

jon livesey said...

"The real point is that the politicians should not be asking us what to do in the first place."

I don't buy that. Churchill, I think, said that the fundamental justification for a referendum was that the politicians could not agree on policy, and had to throw the decision back to the voters.

And let's not forget that the Tories ran in 2015 with the referendum as part of their election platform.

That said, one voter feeling unqualified to vote does not automatically mean that we all feel unqualified.