TED Conversations

Bernard White


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Is Democracy a failing system? And what can be changed (/improved) about it? Or what would you choose to replace it?

"The best argument against Democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter". It seems we usually vote on proximity and the "halo effect". Not on logical rational analysis on which policies will promote the most amount of utility for the nation in question.
"There seems to be no correlation between the most charismatic speaker and the best idea's!"
Seems most humans get drawn into charisma too much! And don't view their ideas, but more how they present them. (ideas)
But more on the subject of democracy it seems the only democracy guarantee's is autonomy of choice, and a guarantee that no prejudice will be given towards the majority.
While various psychologists like Daniel Gilbert and Barry Schwartz make it seem like choice and freedom don't even guarantee happiness, if that is your goal.
Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness:
Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice :
While even people like Malcolm Gladwell recognize that some people may not even know what is best for them! So in that sense Democracy relies on the individual knowing what is best for them.
Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce:
However on another note on this same subject ; that the majority does not know what it wants. You could say that this encourages a form of elitism. Because the "elite" would know what the majority wants.
I hope this debate/question is taken up in good spirit. :)
While if I have got any of my data wrong, please just tell me and I will change it in the description above.

Also a minor point but am not sure whether it is relevant to the question. But many politicians find it very hard to admit their wrong (which seems rather universal to human kind, shown by books like : Mistakes were made but not by me) and is this a fault of democracy?


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  • Mar 26 2013: Democracy may be failing. Democracy is the governing aspect of our culture, and it seems to be supporting a culture that is destroying the environment.

    One improvement would be a Bill of Responsibilities. Civil rights without responsibilities amounts to civil license. Citizens should have the responsibility to participate in government and contribute to the culture.
    • Mar 26 2013: Democracy is failing on the environment because it considers the lobbying by corporations as if they were a valid voting block of citizens.

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