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Independent opinions? on the causal foundations of belief formation and jury theorems

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  • Dietrich, Franz
  • Spiekermann, Kai

Abstract

It is often claimed that opinions are more likely to be correct if they are held independently by many individuals. But what does it mean to hold independent opinions? To clarify this condition, we distinguish four notions of probabilistic opinion independence. Which notion applies depends on environmental factors such as commonly perceived evidence, or, more formally, on the causal network in which people interact and form their opinions. In a general theorem, we identify conditions on this network that guarantee opinion independence in each sense. Our results have implications for `wisdom of crowds' arguments, as we illustrate by providing old and new jury theorems.

Suggested Citation

  • Dietrich, Franz & Spiekermann, Kai, 2012. "Independent opinions? on the causal foundations of belief formation and jury theorems," MPRA Paper 40137, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:40137
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:04:p:1317-1340_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Spiekermann, Kai & Goodin, Robert E., 2012. "Courts of Many Minds," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 555-571, July.
    3. Dietrich, Franz & Spiekermann, Kai, 2013. "Epistemic Democracy With Defensible Premises," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(01), pages 87-120, March.
    4. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2002. "A Model of Jury Decisions Where All Jurors Have the Same Evidence," Economics Papers 2002-W23, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    5. Serguei Kaniovski, 2010. "Aggregation of correlated votes and Condorcet’s Jury Theorem," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 453-468, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:mateco:v:72:y:2017:i:c:p:51-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pivato, Marcus, 2017. "Epistemic democracy with correlated voters," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 51-69.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Condorcet Jury Theorem; dependence between voters; probabilistic dependence; causal dependence;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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