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Comparing this to voting, most people vote because they want to be seen in a good light by their friends and family (and some vote because they don't understand probability). Perhaps some sort of similar social pressure could have been employed with TipJoy.

My contribution voting makes as much difference as it should: 1 person = 1 vote.

By your logic, I guess I shouldn't worry about my carbon footprint.

Whether you should worry about your carbon footprint depends a lot on what your friends and/or family think of the issue. On a practical individual level, it's all about looking good in front of your friends and/or family.

You've reductio'd to something that isn't absurdum.

Understanding probability is not a reason to not vote.

From: http://web.bsu.edu/cob/econ/research/papers/bohanon2002ir.pd...

Public-choice scholars have long argued that voting is instrumentally irrational because the probability that a single vote will change the outcome of an election is nearly zero. Dennis Mueller made the point well when he noted that "the probability of being run over by a car going to or returning from the polls is similar to the probability of casting the decisive vote. If being run over is worse than having one’s preferred candidate lose, then this potential cost of voting alone would exceed the potential gain" (1989, 350).

By that logic no one should bother voting, in which case the entire system would fail to work at all, obviously a flawed outcome. Thus voting does matter, so you should vote. Worrying about the probability of your vote being the winning vote is pointless, there is no winning vote. If the election was decided by a single vote, then every single vote counted and as mattered just as much as the last vote.

While your individual vote might not statistically matter in choosing the winner, in aggregate, it most certainly does. Voting is not an individual thing, it's a collective thing and judging it by the individual is simply the wrong approach.

By that logic no one should bother voting, in which case the entire system would fail to work at all, obviously a flawed outcome.

An outcome you do not prefer is not automatically irrational. You just don't prefer it. The solution is not to wish everyone would act against their own interests to produce your preferred outcome, but to change the incentives so that your preferred outcome is the natural result of rational choices.

> An outcome you do not prefer is not automatically irrational.

It has nothing to do with my preference. An outcome that fails to result in anyone voting for a system intended to get people to vote, is a failed outcome, no matter how you look at it.

I've thought an unhealthy amount about this. My solution is for everyone to copy the vote of whichever one of their friends seems like the best voter (most intelligent, unaffiliated, conscientious, etc.) If someone thinks they are a better voter than all of their friends then they decide who to vote for themselves. The advantages of this system are twofold:

1. On average, better politicians get elected because the voting decisions of society's best-equipped voters are being amplified.

2. Only a small part of the population has to bother themselves with following political news. Since they're such great voters they'll probably do it in much greater depth (reading actual bills and scientific papers; carefully scouring campaign websites instead of believing rumors they hear on TV.)

Not a bad idea actually, but to simplify it a bit.

Most everyone has a friend they consider much smarter than themselves, just do what he says.

This applies to much more than voting.

That doesn't quite work, because if you've got an unusual situation then it'd be unreasonable to ask your friend to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

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