Monday 2017-01-16

Would you rather be ruled by experts or by laypersons?

William F. Buckley famously said he would rather be ruled by the first 2,000 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University.
-- Tyler Cowen

This -- perhaps calculatedly -- avoids stating the process by which these people will arrive at decisions.

Most of us have an implicit democratic process in mind: that the group will vote and the option with the most votes wins. Say that's not the case, and the process were more like Hunger Games, with one sole winner deciding the outcome?

For either decision process, does it matter whether the original group consists of experts or laymen?

It's been thousands of years, and as far as I know, we still can't answer this question: Given a problem domain, a group of deciders, and an objective function for ranking outcomes, which decision process will yield the best outcomes?