In a previous post, I laid out a hierarchy of three different possible meanings of one person, one vote (OPOV). The 1st level of OPOV required that each voter have exactly one ballot. The 2nd level required that each ballot have the same weight. Finally, the 3rd level required each possible ballot to be perfectly cancelled out by another possible ballot. I also created a combination Euler/pyramid diagram to demonstrate the relationship visually:
Epistemic status: fiction
Most people believe that the soul is the essence of a person. These people are wrong. The essence of a person is their consciousness, and consciousness is merely a complex and intricate set of computations occurring in the brain. The reason so many believe this myth regarding souls arises from the consequences of removing one.
The exact results vary from procedure to procedure, but what they all have in common is the destruction of the patient’s consciousness. In some cases the patient simply dies. In others they enter a permanent coma-like state. And for some procedures, the results are… best left unsaid.
The issue that all of these procedures encounter is related to the soul’s dependence on a person’s consciousness. Without a consciousness to shape it, a soul would merely be a small and unremarkable reservoir of magical energy. However, magical energy shaped directly by consciousness becomes incredibly useful.
Modern mathematicians have come to the consensus that the number 1 is not a prime number. However, many people still believe that 1 is in fact prime. This belief is justified by definitions like
a prime number is a positive whole number that is only divisible by 1 and itself
and indeed, under this definition 1 would be prime. However, most definitions are worded to exclude 1, usually by specifying that a prime number must be greater than 1.
But why make the definition more complicated just to prevent 1 from being a prime number? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just say it is prime? Well, it turns out that treating 1 as a prime number is quite awkward as it lacks many properties that all prime numbers have. This post will go over four of those properties, and in doing so will hopefully make the exclusion of 1 less of a mystery.
A straw centrist is a person who always takes the middle position on issues. For example, if you asked them if we should kill all the men or not, they would say that we should kill half of the men. If you asked them if we should kill all the women or not, they would say that we should kill half of the women. And if you asked them if we should kill all the children or not, they would say that we should kill half of the children.
But it wouldn’t just be disjoint groups for which this is true. If you asked them if we should kill all the teachers or not, they would say that we should kill half of them. But how could they make sure that they don’t accidentally kill over half of the teachers while killing half of the women? Well, by the law of large numbers, there is a really simple method to ensure that they kill half of every group: choose a random sample to kill. If the sample size is equal to the size of half of the population, then they will achieve all of their goals at the same time.
Now we see how Thanos qualifies as a straw centrist: his plan is exactly what we’d expect from one. This also explains why he talks about balance all the time. A straw centrist picks the middle position on every issue because they want to balance the advantages and disadvantages of each side. In the same way, Thanos kills half the population because he wants to balance the advantages and disadvantages of killing everyone and killing no one. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that Thanos is indeed a straw centrist.
The concept of one person, one vote is often brought up in discussions of voting methods and electoral systems. In the United States, it’s commonly associated with a Supreme Court decision that required states to use districts with approximately equal populations. However, the general idea that everyone’s vote should be equal has been brought up as a way to challenge alternative voting methods like approval voting and instant-runoff voting (abbreviated IRV, and also called ranked-choice voting), despite the fact that votes cast under these methods are not any less equal than the single-choice plurality method used in most U.S. elections. To make this even more complicated, this concept has also been used to argue in favor of replacing plurality voting with alternative methods. The Equal Vote Coalition’s equality criterion is a good example of this.
Having all these overlapping concepts associated with one phrase is likely to lead to a lot of confusion. For instance, Equal Vote appears to equivocate between two different meanings in their page comparing STAR and IRV. The section on equality begins with the following sentence:
The U.S. Supreme Court has found unequivocally that ‘One Person, One Vote’ requires that “each vote be given as much weight as any other vote.”
However, the page goes on to claim that IRV fails one person, one vote, which is not true under the Supreme Court’s definition. Instead, Equal Vote has switched to applying their own equality criterion. Without proper clarification, this is very misleading to readers.