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Numbers Rule by George Szpiro

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PREFACE

It may come as a surprise to many readers that our democratic institutions and the instruments to implement the will of the people are by no means foolproof. In fact, they may have strange consequences. One example is the so-called Condorcet Paradox. Named after the eighteenth-century French nobleman Jean-Marie Marquis de Condorcet, it refers to the surprising fact that majority voting, dear to us since times immemorial, can lead to seemingly paradoxical behavior. I do not want to let the cat out of the bag just yet by giving away what this paradox is. Suffice it to say for now that this conundrum has kept mathematicians, statisticians, political scientists, and economists busy for two centuries—to no avail. Worse, toward the middle of ...

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