Tiny House
More About The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation • Join Now!
Community News

Article on Deliberative Polling published in The Economist

NCDD member Jim Fishkin was just featured in an article in The Economist print edition. If you aren’t familiar with Jim yet, he’s Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford and creator of the Deliberative Poll.

The article, titled “Ancient Athens online: Democracy is about discussion, not just voting” can be viewed in full at this link. It begins with a bit of history about the use of random selection for public deliberation…

REFLECTION and representation are not an easy fit. For an individual voter, being well-informed about every twist of public policy is an irrational use of time. But leaving a self-selecting elite of wonks and careerists in charge of policy-making is unappealing. In ancient Athens, which invented both democracy and the dilemma, a machine called a kleroterion picked a random 500 people to make policy from the 50,000-odd polity. The jury excluded women and slaves and the decisions it reached were sometimes dodgy (condemning Socrates was probably a mistake). But the approach is returning in a modern guise, under the label of “deliberative democracy”.

It also included some helpful stats about the impact of deliberative polls in participants’ opinions…

Discussions and briefing often lead to a shift away from populist viewpoints. In a recent poll in Britain support for making party manifesto promises legally binding plunged from 41% to 18%. In recession-hit Michigan a discussion raised support for bigger taxes (from 27% to 45% for income tax, for example). By contrast, support for cuts in corporate taxes rocketed 27 points to 67%: the more people thought about the issue, the more they wanted a better business environment and a lower deficit. But some results are discomfiting (at least for those with this newspaper’s views). A pan-European poll in October 2007 found that support for European Union membership for Turkey and Ukraine fell by a fifth as the discussion progressed. Deliberation counts for something, with a statistically significant shift in opinion on three out of four questions, and the biggest changes coming from those whose gains in knowledge are the greatest.

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

  More Posts  

Post Your Comment!

 

-