2010 review – sortition-related events

My call for proposals of mention-worthy lottery-related 2010 events garnered one response. Below are, therefore, Peter Stone’s proposal and mine. Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2011.

  • Peter Stone called attention to the 2010 book, Sortition: Theory and Practice, edited by Oliver Dowlen and Gil Delannoi. (Conveniently, Amazon UK, at the link above, allows to peruse some of the book’s contents online.)

    With my personal interest in statistics, I found Antoine Vergne’s sortition-related literature survey – in which he offers some quantitative data – particularly interesting. Vergne defined a corpus of 199 texts starting with 2 published in 1956 (one of which presumably is C. L. R. James’s ‘Every Cook Can Govern’) and ending with 9 texts published in 2008. The texts are about evenly split between ‘descriptive’, ‘exploratory’, and ‘advocative’ texts. Vergne claims that the historical trend “makes it clear that there has been a growing interest in sortition”.

  • To me, the most prominent sortition-related event of the year had been Joe Klein’s blog post suggesting to replace Obama’s budget commission with a Fishkin-style Deliberative Poll. This has been, I think, the most widely read mention this year of the idea of policy setting by a body selected by random sampling. It has generated a small amount of attention.

    It is a sad state of affairs that a poorly argued blog post by a person of such low intellectual and moral standing would easily attract more attention than all the high quality material about sortition that is available. It is a reflection of the elitist nature of mass media today, and highlights the need for fundamental reform of this institution.