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FrameBenignly 1 May 2015 07:08 PM
72%

Trying to understand the entirety of the government is an impossible task for the average person. Even people who do this for a living often struggle with it. Even if the average person slightly increases their degree of knowledge, compared to an expert they will still be hopelessly lost.

To account for this, I recommend focusing on one or two areas and getting to know them pretty well rather than the whole picture. You should evaluate politicians not based on their degree of agreement with you, but based on their degree of understanding of policy. US Senators will often argue against a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, and yet that is exactly what we do to politicans who are running for office. Political office is the only kind of job where I've seen this done. To get the best policy, we need the most knowledgeable policy makers; not the people who agree with your opinion (which is likely insufficiently informed).

One great thing to evaluate them on is general scientific principles. When they talk, do you get the sense that they understand introductory statistics and the distinction between good data and bad data? This can sometimes be difficult as politicans have to carefully choose their words for a broad audience. Did he say that because he believes it or because he thinks it's what he needs to say?

Asking the public to micromanage policy is a fool's errand, and is a primary cause of bad policy.

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FrameBenignly 1 May 2015 07:12 PM
68%

Some questions as examples of the complexity of politics:

Macroeconomics
What does MV=PQ stand for? Please explain.

Health Care
Laws banning insurance from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions such as the ACA are generally said to require two other changes to be enacted simultaneously to prevent major problems. What are those two changes and how do they interact?

Price Controls
What happens when prices are fixed above market equilibrium? Why is the minimum wage often considered by liberal economists to be an exception?

Education
What is the PISA?

Immigration
Immigrants compete with natives for jobs, yet empirical studies have found they are often found to make natives the same or often slightly better off in terms of economic standing. Why?

Abortion
Roughly how developed is a fetus at 9 weeks? 16 weeks?

Negotiation
If 7 people are deciding on a policy proposal, and they are evenly distributed from left-right where Person A is the most liberal and Person G is the most conservative, and 4 votes are required for the proposal to pass, which person has the most bargaining power? If Person C wishes to increase his bargaining power, is it better for him to become more liberal or more conservative? What about Person A?

Political Science
What are the 3 branches of the Iron Triangle?

Public Opinion (US based)
Rank these federal spending programs in order of popularity:
Foreign Aid
Social Security
Education
Defense

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Jiro 6 May 2015 07:46 PM
67%

I think the immigration question is ill-posed. Empirical studies show that something happens. They don't show why something happens. At best, the empirical studies provide data which you can use to create hypotheses to later test. A question that asks why an empirical study shows something is asking for pure speculation, not for knowledge or reasoning (unless you want the respondent to answer based on the result of other studies to which you are not referring).

Worse yet, the question includes the weasel word "often". Since "often" can be less than 50%, one possible speculation which answers the question as asked would be "immigration is harmful to natives, but the data has a lot of noise and confounding factors".

Finally, "immigration" is itself a slanted term. Actual political controversies surrounding "immigration" are not about immigration in general; they are about specific subgroups of immigration. Data that is actually about immigration in general often won't apply to them, and are often part of a pro-immigration motte-and-bailey where the motte is "immigration is good" and the bailey is "the particular kind of immigration I am talking about is good".

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Jiro 7 May 2015 06:58 PM
65%

Frame, by subgroups I mean the groups which are political footballs, which are generally illegal aliens, Mexicans (which overlaps a lot with illegal aliens), and H1Bs. These also happen to fit the unskilled and skilled division, but that's not all that it's about.

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FrameBenignly 7 May 2015 05:40 PM
64%

yes, I am asking about the results from other studies and from standard theories that explain the disparity often found between empirical results and common sense. By subgroups, I assume you're referring to skilled vs unskilled labor. The questions weren't meant to be perfect; I'd say the negotiation question allows for the greatest leeway in possible answers. But there is going to be a huge gap between an educated response and an uneducated one on these issues and they are the sorts of problems politics does have to tackle.

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Dahlen 2 May 2015 01:10 PM
67%

For some reason I'm tempted to read this as a quiz to determine if a person is informed enough to vote. (I'm almost sure you didn't mean it this way, though.) If that's the case, I sure as hell failed it.

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FrameBenignly 2 May 2015 02:03 PM
66%

Actually, in a way I did. It's what I think a specialist in those areas would consider basic information. But that's just because of the huge gap between specialists and an average person. I didn't include any legal questions because I don't understand that area very well. It's what I consider to be informed enough to have an educated opinion on that issue which is why I recommend specializing in one or two areas, and reading from a lot of different sources in those areas; not just the ones you agree with. In fact, if you stick with a person whose views you despise long enough but who seems to know a lot more than you in that area, you might start to understand why they think that way.

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Dahlen 2 May 2015 02:42 PM
72%

Yes, but to vote? That would restrict suffrage to a few tens to hundreds of thousands of people in a US-sized country and might completely disenfranchise the poor as a group. It would be a bold policy move, to say the least.

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FrameBenignly 2 May 2015 02:47 PM
63%

Or we could just change what people are voting on. Futarchy is one such example.

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ChristianKl 5 May 2015 06:52 PM
65%

I think it illustrates the perils of too much direct democracy.
It's important to have experts to make policy decisions. Representative democracy is a system that allows you to elect experts that you trust without you having to know which policy is best.

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melian 2 May 2015 05:15 AM
62%

Some questions as examples of the complexity of politics:

Immigrants compete with natives for jobs, yet empirical studies have found they are often found to make natives the same or often slightly better off in terms of economic standing. Why?


I don't think this is a complex question. The economic impact of immigration on natives is indeed complex, but the results of "empirical studies" are generally predictable. Researchers who would dare to claim that the effects on natives are negative would become academic pariahs and, quite likely, lose their jobs.

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Fwiffo 7 May 2015 02:58 PM
57%

While the topics might be okay the wordings of the questions are way way too opinion loaded to work as a good knowledge test. The health care question is especially bad as it test memory more than being able to apply a concept and can be read almost as if testing for an attitude (for which a leaning neutral test should not do, it should just stick to knowledge).

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FrameBenignly 7 May 2015 05:33 PM
67%

It is asking about a concept; a concept from a well known theory among health policy analysts. Theory and empiricism are both important. Having a lot of data is useless if you don't have a way to interpret that data. The question does not require you to agree with the theory; only that you understand it. If you don't understand standard theories, you're not in a position to judge them.

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Fwiffo 8 May 2015 12:35 PM
56%

What is a standard theory is a valueladen delineation. There is danger that the status quo needs no justification but any deviation from it does. Then people that can position their stance having been the status quo gain uncritisable acceptance.

If you don't understand alternative theories why are you in a position to reject them?

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