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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Trust this week’s Economist to seamlessly link animal behavior to the political decision-making process (for the record, I have been spotted waxing poetic about The Economist’s cutting insight, breath-taking worldliness, and amazing dry wit). If you have a minute, check out Decisions, Decisions, an article in their Science and Technology section.

The article essentially synthesizes a few recent scientific experiments with appetizing social animals like worker bees, cockroaches, and ants, and briefly discusses potential implications on political bodies like the European Parliament. It’s fascinating, really — across these species, scientists have found that the best decisions are made by a group of independently-formed opinions, and that leaders heavily rely on trust from all those “below” (in terms of social hierarchy). An imposed decision from a singular source, regardless of how informed s/he may be, has not proven to be as powerful as a group of moderately-informed bodies. Sorry, Chavez.

None of this is particularly revolutionary in the world of politics (does ancient Greece ring a bell?), but I like the reminder that independent opinion formation is an indispensable element of the democratic process. And that democratic decisions can be made and inculcated into a group even during the implementation process.

I’m curious to know how — if at all — these theories can be baked into Obama’s economic stimulus plan, which, last I heard, wasn’t receiving quite as much Republican support as the Dems envisioned. And how (again, if at all) these theories can be used to give the UN a bit more bite. Ideas, anyone?

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