What’s the Point of Lotteries


I’ve done an interview for the BBC Radio show “The Inquiry.” The episode is now online under the title “What’s the Point of Lotteries?” You can find it here:


Most of the first half is concerned with lotteries as a form of gambling, but my interview (which starts at 17:23, in part 4) focuses upon the social and political uses of lotteries. I don’t think it came off half-bad.

3 Responses

  1. Part 4 was certainly a good exposition of the Blind Break school of sortition research. It’s ironic that Peter opened his argument with a reference to the Callenbach and Philips book, as this is an example of the Invisible Hand school, for which sortition is an entirely rational way to achieve a portrait in miniature of the target population. If the ratio of the sample to the target population was inaccurate along key dimensions such as age, gender, race etc, then the sortition would be rejected as irrational.


  2. Great that you got on to the programme Peter – the conventional media opportunities to air ideas such as these are painfully rare.

    Shame that the presenter’s notions of politics and the importance of what you had to say were so vapid and lacking in contextual richness.

    Makes it all the more important to explore alternative channels for getting the debate seeded more widely into the population.


  3. Patrick:

    >the conventional media opportunities to air ideas such as these are painfully rare.

    Actually they’re increasing all the time and it’s important that we don’t create the impression that sortition is purely of “alternative” (fringe) interest. As for your accusation of “vapidity” it struck me that the presenter followed Peter’s own approach to sortition quite thoughtfully, although the Blind Break approach may not appeal to some of the more radical followers of this forum.


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