Ordinary citizens can decide complex issues. Defy the myth!

One of the real pleasures of being involved with Transparent Payson is that oftentimes we receive unsolicited input.  Recently a friend provided a clipping from the Wall Street Journal.  This clipping was an essay piece penned by Dr. James Fishkin.  We would encourage that you read the entirety of the article.

We are providing two relevant paragraphs from the article.  There is a school of thought that people are not competent enough for self-government.  Dr. Fishkin believes that this depends on our institutions and under the right conditions ordinary people are perfectly capable of making complicated policy choices.

To give you an idea of the essay’s contents, the first paragraph clearly indicates Dr. Fishkin’s belief that democracy is under threat around the world.  It reads as follows:

Democracy is under threat around the world, afflicted by polarized politics, tribalism in support of partisanship and propaganda spread on social media. Most citizens converse only with the like-minded, so they almost never hear the other side. Our collective decisions are rarely based on evidence and often lead to deadlock.

The conclusion?

Some political scientists say that democracy is just an edifying myth, that the people are simply not competent enough for self-government. But it depends on our institutions. Under the right conditions, ordinary people are perfectly capable of making complicated policy choices.

Again, we would encourage that you read the full essay.

The concept of Citizen control and the ability of Citizens to make complex decisions is not new, or without merit. Is democracy an “edifying myth?”  Not in Payson; not if we are successful. 

We concur with Dr. Fishkin and defer to his expertise in the area.  Dr. Fishkin is no newcomer to the area of Political Science study. A very impressive curriculum vitae.

Professional Education:

University of Cambridge, Philosophy
Yale University, Political Science
Magna Cum Laude, Yale College

Professional Bio:

Professor of Communication Stanford University
Professor of Communication Stanford University
Professor of Political Science Stanford University
Director of Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy
Chair of the Department of Communication Stanford University
Holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University

Dr. Fishkin, as does Transparent Payson, believes that ordinary people can make relatively “complex” policy decisions.  That is the basis of the foundation of Transparent Payson.  Further, we believe that in order to make complex decisions, the truth, in simple easy to understand terms, will be presented.  Both GREAT things to continue in a Democracy.


A true pleasure when people send me thoughtful clippings.


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