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By Scott L. Althaus

On account that so few humans seem acquainted with public affairs, one may well query no matter if collective coverage personal tastes published in opinion surveys adequately show the distribution of voices and pursuits in a society. Scott Althaus' finished research of the connection among wisdom, illustration, and political equality (in opinion surveys) ends up in extraordinary solutions. wisdom does topic, and how it's distributed in society could cause collective personal tastes to mirror critiques disproportionately. for that reason, the examine can assist survey researchers, reporters, politicians, and anxious electorate higher delight in the issues and potentials of using opinion polls to symbolize the people's voice.

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A major part of the argument is the reduction of noise due to the “miracle” of aggregation. – Erikson, MacKuen, and Stimson (2002: 428–9) In almost every political theory there is an inscrutable element which in the heyday of that theory goes unexamined. Behind the appearances there is a Fate, there are Guardian Spirits, or Mandates to a Chosen People, a Divine Monarchy, a Vice-Regent of Heaven, or a Class of the Better Born. The more obvious angels, demons, and kings are gone out of democratic thinking, but the need for believing that there are reserve powers of guidance persists.

The important point is that measurement-error models define these errors as perfectly random and independent from the errors of other respondents. When errors are defined in this way, the process of aggregating opinions together should cause an error in one direction to offset an error in the other. Because perfectly random errors are thought to cancel out when aggregated, the unobserved true attitudes can be measured as the central tendencies of collective opinions (Lord and Novick 1968) and should also be reflected in other aggregate parameters of collective preferences (Erikson, MacKuen, and Stimson 2002; MacKuen, Erikson, and Stimson 1992; Page and Shapiro 1992; Russett 1990; Stimson 1990, 1991).

American Enterprise Institute, 1985: 108. This quote was brought to the author’s attention by Robert Eisinger. Aristotle writes: “It is possible that the many, no one of whom taken singly is a good man, may yet taken all together be better than the few, not individually but collectively, in the same way that a feast to which all contribute is better than one given at one man’s expense. For where there are many people, each has some share of goodness and intelligence, and when these are brought together, they become as it were one multiple man with many pairs of feet and hands and many minds.

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