Some pro-sortition podcasting

Hi all

Just to let you know of a podcast I did with Jim O’Shaugnessey’s program “Infinite loops”. You can download it from this link. I’ve also done another one in Australia which I’ll also post when it’s released in the New Year.

You can download a transcript from this link (pdf).

8 Responses

  1. Nicholas,

    Regarding “wildcat juries”: A reasonably high level of participation would be both a requirement and a consequence of the practice being widely perceived as legitimate. Therefore, it would be hard to bootstrap this practice to a situation where it would be perceived as democratic, it seems.


  2. Reblogged this on Fila Sophia and commented:
    Stimulating podcast conversation on citizen juries in the context of the “fast foodization” and “PRification” of politics, with Nicholas Gruen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Yoram, but I’m not sure what you’re saying. I don’t envisage wildcat juries to be procedurally different to of the citizens’ juries that have been run in numerous countries in the last decade. They’d just be funded and managed privately, not by government. But they’d require stringent safeguards as to their integrity.


  4. Hi Nicholas,

    What I am saying is that on the one hand a necessary part of “stringent safeguards” is a high level of participation and on the other hand a widely shared perception that stringent safeguards are in place would be necessary in order to guarantee a high level of participation. Thus, there is a bootstrapping problem associated with setting up wildcat juries, a problem which would be difficult to resolve, it seems to me.


  5. Do you have evidence for your claim?

    I have in mind that there’s an impeccable public and auditable commitment to impartiality, a public process of choosing who gets an invitation and payment for participation.

    I can’t see why that would have a lower participation rate than an exercise backed by the government.


  6. I am making two claims:

    1. Without high levels of participation, the procedure would not be widely perceived as fair.

    2. Without wide perception of the procedure as fair, there would not be high levels of participation.

    Which of these do you doubt?

    As for the advantage of a government-run jury: if the jury makes policy, people would want to participate even if the body is not perceived as fair.


  7. Thanks Yoram,

    We seem to be at cross purposes. Citizens’ juries are run all the time and fairly competently and fairly. They’re well perceived by the public in my experience. Of course that doesn’t shield them from the claims of any political operative who doesn’t like them. So they’ll obviously be subjected to political business-as-usual in the political hurly burly — traduced by those who don’t like them in general, or don’t like their findings.

    I used the term wildcat juries to make the point that anyone who can raise the necessary funds can run one of these things and can do it at relatively short notice — a few months. They can also do it for a directly political purpose. I tried to do so in the context of the Brexit process in the UK and got quite close to getting the funds.

    Of course the funds would only have been accepted subject to funders accepting that they had no role in seeking to influence the outcome of the process and that the process itself was governed in a way that was demonstrably independent of political interference.

    I don’t know if I used the term ‘bootstrapping’ in the interview, but if I did this is the kind of process I was referring to, and it does not involve lower standards of integrity and process than the numerous citizens’ juries that seem to go on happily run by governments and universities.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. > Citizens’ juries are run all the time and fairly competently and fairly.

    I am not sure what is the basis for your confidence. I personally have very little confidence in the process as it is presently carried out.

    > They’re well perceived by the public in my experience.

    This may very well be the case as long as the issue is not contentious and has little impact on most people’s lives. If you wish to influence public opinion on matters like climate change or Brexit – and I understand you do – then I think the bar is much higher.

    I should maybe make it clear that I am not against the idea of “wildcat juries”. I just think that any attempt to use such juries to influence public opinion would meet severe obstacle, well beyond the funding and the good will of the organizers.


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