Re: Shamos Rebuttal, Draft 3--error versus fraud, other items

From: Edward Cherlin <cherlin_at_pacbell_dot_net>
Date: Wed May 11 2005 - 13:11:52 CDT

On Tuesday 10 May 2005 18:34, Ed Kennedy wrote:
> Hello All:
> On the incompetence versus fraud issue I think a good test
> would be to examine in who's favor these 'errors' trend.
> Being mindful of Jim March's feelings, I'll just say that I
> get the impression that these errors tend to more favor
> Republicans than Democrats. One could argue, in my partisan
> way, that a consistent error in favor of one party or the
> other or possibly even just in favor in incumbent office
> holders, would suggest fraud is a more likely explanation for
> these errors. If incompetence were a more likely source, I
> would expect the errors to be more randomly distributed. As
> I've mentioned before, I've always suspected that incumbents
> are less likely to leave elections to chance.

Actually, this cannot be taken as evidence for intentional
cheating. It could be unconscious, like women teachers
unconsciously favoring boys in their classrooms.

In the ESP experiments at Duke, believers scored higher than
chance when counting their own results in one particular
experiment, and non-believers scored lower than chance.
Photographic evidence showed chance results on both sides. There
was no evidence of people trying to fudge the results, but they
were more likely to correct errors that went against their

Similarly the IRS reports that arithmetic errors in tax returns
significantly favor the filer.

In voting software, the presumption then is that more effort
would be put into fixing bugs that might harm one's favored
candidates, simply through unconscious bias rather than
conscious malice.

Edward Cherlin
Generalist & activist--Linux, languages, literacy and more
"A knot! Oh, do let me help to undo it!"
--Alice in Wonderland
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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:33 2005

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