Thursday, 20 January 2011

THAT running analogy...and why it's still wrong.

Some people clearly aren't yet in tune with how to make an analogy that works. The one that always bothers me is the "running a race" analogy for FPTP and AV.

For a start, a race is not a good analogy to FPTP. Sure, on the face of it the example seems to fit, everyone's in a race, the winning line is the close of polls, the person that crosses that line fastest (or with the most support in real terms) is the winner.

But let's think..if you're Usain Bolt, do you run slower if you've got more people competing against you, or faster? Under FPTP if you're a strong candidate, more candidates in the running just takes more support from you (or makes you slower, see?). Now under what reality can we say that racing the 100m is therefore analogous to FPTP as a system?

So, for a start the whole "FPTP is the first person crossing the line in a race" thing is bollocks.

But then, because on the face of it the analogy *appears* to be good, the attempt is made to shoehorn AV into the same discussion of a single occurrence of a race.

AV, according to FPTP supporters, is like everyone finishing the race and then giving the medal to the third place runner instead of the first. Really?

For a start trying to boil down a whole election under AV into a single running of a race is a false analogy. If we're going to be accurate then AV is a full competition of running events, from qualifying all the way up to the final. In the first round we run the race and the slowest runner is told to go home. It's run again and the slowest runner in that race is asked to leave. This happens over and over again until either the first place runner has beat the combined times of the remaining runners, or we're down to a straight one-on-one sprint.

No "third place" person ever gets the medal, it's always the first place runner that'll win the race under AV, but the field of runners will have been systematically reduced by taking away the slowest...the same kind of practice that happens on any professional athletic stage.

As you can see, the running event is actually much more analogous to racing than FPTP, despite the racing analogy being "owned" by the FPTP crowd, but only if you use the analogy correctly...in which case it completely fails to represent FPTP as a system.

Would any of you say that it is wrong to run qualifying rounds in the 100m, eliminating the slowest, until we end up with a race between the two fastest? Perhaps you oppose the whole ethos of competitive sport as much as you oppose AV?

So, in conclusion..again...please keep your analogies relevant!