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Poll Results

Poll 423: When faced with a dilemma, do people make the better choice more or less than 50% of the time?

Total votes: 3179

Less: 1935 (60.9%)  
More: 1244 (39.1%)

A few tricky things to note about this poll question:

  • A dilemma is by definition a choice between exactly two things, each equally undesirable. By that definition, it doesn't matter what choice you make, it can't be better than the other one. So there's no valid answer to the question from among the two responses offered.
  • Some people might be working with a less strict definition, in which one choice is slightly better. But perhaps you can't tell beforehand which choice will turn out better, which makes it an a priori dilemma. In such a case you're basically choosing at random, so the odds are exactly 50% that you'll make the "right" choice. And of course "exactly 50%" is not an option on this poll question - you're only given the choice of "more than 50%" or "less than 50%". Under this assumption both of the two answers to this poll are equally undesirable. Do you see where I'm going here?
  • An even less strict definition of a dilemma might allow more than two choices. If they are all equally undesirable, you still can't answer this question, because none is actually better.
  • An even further less strict definition of a dilemma might allow multiple choices, where one choice is in fact slightly better than the others. In this case, how many people take the correct decision depends on how obvious it is and how many alternatives are offered. If it's very obvious, then it's not really a dilemma, since there's no agonising over the decision. So there has to be a significant chance of someone making a wrong decision. But you can't quantify what the odds are without knowing more details. So it's impossible to pick a correct answer to the poll question.
A total of 372 people chose to sidestep the dilemma entirely by recording a "vote" for "<choose>". Of course, by doing this, you're invalidating the question itself. Which in this case may well be a good thing to do. :-)

My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
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