The Hopeless Game You Need To Play


From Vsauce2.

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Nothing seems easier, clearer, and more obvious than choosing who to vote for. We’ve done it for thousands of years across cultures ranging from Ancient Greek city-states to tribal democracies in the Americas. And now that we’re about to elect a President of YouTube, it’s time to look at how complex seemingly-simple decision theory can really be.

When you decide whether to dive head first into the Whang! Gang or sign your life over to the The Cult of Pebbles, you’re going through a process that involves multiple behavioral paradoxes, quirks of game theory, and… even the same sort of problem when you and your friends try to figure out where to eat.

The deeper you go into the analysis, the harder it becomes. You can focus too much on trivial things. You can invent differences that might not even be there. You can get wrapped up in outside emotion and ignore what’s right in front of you… yet you emerge confident that you know exactly what you want for yourself and everyone else.

In a way, it’s a hopeless game we *have* to play. But we get a little smarter and a little better every time.

*** SOURCES ***

Marquis de Condorcet, “Foundations of Social Choice and Political Theory” (1793):

Jones, Bradford, et al. “Condorcet Winners and the Paradox of Voting: Probability Calculations for Weak Preference Orders.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 89, no. 1, 1995, pp. 137–144. JSTOR,

Cargile, James. “The Sorites Paradox.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, London, Vol. 20, N. 1, May 1969

Guerrero, Alexander. “The Paradox of Voting and the Ethics of Political Representation.” Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 38, no. 3, 2010, pp. 272–306:

Börgers, Tilman. “Costly Voting.” The American Economic Review, vol. 94, no. 1, 2004, pp. 57–66. JSTOR, https:/

Bradberry, Brent A. “A Geometric View of Some Apportionment Paradoxes.” Mathematics Magazine, vol. 65, no. 1, 1992, pp. 3–17.

Neubauer, Michael G., and Margo G. Gartner. “A Proposal for Apportioning the House.” PS: Political Science and Politics, vol. 44, no. 1, 2011, pp. 77–79.

Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Volume 9 Issue 2, Summer 2015:

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