Re: ELECTION: problems and solutions

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Tue Nov 14 2000 - 08:35:40 MST


>Well, one use of the Internet is for publishing web pages, which
>is akin to broadcasting. Presumably your ban would need to apply
>to web publishers in addition to TV, right?


>An interesting example in the recent election was Matt Drudge,
>whose site published the early exit poll results,
>contravening the stated policy of the consortium which conducted
>the polls, Voter News Service. He may still get sued for this,
>we'll see. Would you muzzle Matt Drudge? Is he merely an
>influential individual, or does he count as a broadcaster? How to
>decide? What happens as others become successful publishing their
>own opinions?

I'm not muzzling anyone, I'm talking about delaying talking about
an on going process till it's completed. As I've already pointed
out we have reasonable time delays on the Second Amendment already,
why not the first?

At some point individuals become "common carriers" and subject to

>I don't see how you can draw a meaningful line between individuals
>and the media, given that there are a number of influential
>individuals (and you can bet that more such personal sites would
>spring up if you did succeed in quashing media discussion). Then
>there are discussion groups like alt.politics (which is actually
>where I found Drudge's reports, his site was overloaded all day),
>chat rooms and a host of other communication options.

Make a law, punish people who break the law, simple.

>Face it, the future is moving towards increased information flow.
>Any proposal to limit political discussion is a non-starter, IMO.

I do this for a living (I'm reading Gilders Telecosm now), and as
I've already said, I'm not out to limit any discussion, just impose
a delay for the duration of the polling.

>I don't think the burden of proof ought to be on someone
>justifying a positive use for people being able to communicate
>with each other. Rather, you need to show that there is very
>significant harm in allowing them to do so, in order to justify
>muzzling their natural ability to communicate.

I went to bed when I heard that Gore had won Florida, people
standing in line in California went home thinking they were wasting
there time.

>Why should we restrict people from learning how others are voting?
>What is the harm?

It could change the result, that is obvious.

>If it really were so harmful, shouldn't we disallow pre-election
>polling? That gives people an idea about how others should vote.
>Granted it is not as accurate, but as we have seen, same-day
>reports are not always 100% accurate either (Drudge had Florida
>going overwhelmingly for Gore, which is why the networks called it
>15 minutes after most but not all of the polls closed).

There has already been testimony from people who heard this and
decided there was no reason to vote.

>Even if such information influences votes, don't people have the
>right to use whatever information they choose in making decisions?
>What gives us the omniscience to say that the world would be a
>better place if each person were to decide without any information
>about what others are doing?

As I've said before, I'm not out to limit the discussion, just
impose a timedelay during the polling, nothing more.

>There is plenty of experimental and theoretical reason to think
>that giving people the maximum of information will help them.
>Take the famous Delphi system, in which experts are polled, and
>then given feedback about what other experts said in order to
>revise their estimates. The feedback is said to greatly improve
>accuracy. Or look at the theoretical results in which social
>information institutions evolve to be trustworthy so that average
>individuals don't have to be experts on everything in order to
>still make decent decisions. People implicitly rely on the
>judgement of their fellows being roughly accurate most of the

People follow trends, if everyone thinks everyone else is voting
for someone they will too. Everyone likes to be on the winning

>It seems to me to be contrary to the principle of respect for
>individual autonomy to try to put a ban like this into place.
>Better to let people decide for themselves what information they
>want to use.

It's not a ban, just a delay, you can talk about anything you like
up to the moment the polls open, you can talk about anything you
like during, EXCEPT what is going on at the polls.

As I've already pointed out the media is biased, they were clearly
out to elect a specific candidate.


Extropy Institute,
Adler Planetarium
Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:21 MDT