WHAT WOULD SOLOMON DO?
Why aren’t Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and the unhappy Americans one encounters online these days all clamouring for science to be used to find out objectively which candidate would emerge as the real winner of the presidential election if only valid votes could be counted? (It wouldn’t be necessary to weed out all the invalid votes and start the counting all over again in every state, just to answer this simple question.)
There is a simple algorithm for calculating the winner (if any) of the US presidential election by electoral college vote. This algorithm requires as its input the vote counts by candidate for all the states. The algorithm outputs a name, for example, either Trump or Biden this year. (The number of electors each state returns is static data that is hard-coded into the algorithm.)
It would be interesting to know which candidate that algorithm would say won the US presidential election if the vote counts fed into it were counts of all the valid votes and none of the invalid votes – especially not any votes that were invalid because they were fraudulent, such as the output of so-called “vote factories”. (For brevity, I will refer to this candidate as the “real winner” of the presidential election.)
Both Biden and Trump are claiming to be the real winner. Neither is able to prove his claim yet. Instead, they are both claiming to love more than the other the land and the people that their posturing is threatening to cut in two, due to universal ignorance as to which candidate is the real winner of the election and the heavy emotional investment of so many into wishful-thinking guesses about that, one way or the other.
The American people should not be left to guess who really won the election. The media shouldn’t be threatening that baby Sam will have to be split down the middle in order to find out which harlot proves she loves him like a real mum, by conceding defeat to the other. There is no constitutional mechanism anyway for the granting of custody to the whore who is the first willing to surrender to the other out of love for the child who is in peril of bisection. “What Solomon would do” won’t cut it. Instead, America can find out the truth and settle the quarrel once and for all using science, if America wants that.
Mathematical v Legal Proof
Trump’s lawyers seem to not have cottoned on yet that the same word that is used in the description of the civil standard of proof, “the balance of probabilities“, echoes the name of a branch of mathematics – Probability. Proving things is as much the bread and butter of the mathematician as it is in the legal professions, albeit with greater rigour. What America can enjoy, if it acquires an appetite for truth, is the glorious spectacle of one Professor of Probability and Statistics after another testifying before the Supreme Justices in their expert evidence exactly what they have all, independently but unanimously, calculated the probability to be that either Trump or Biden was the real winner of the election, leaving the court only to find for one candidate or the other on the unassailable basis that his calculated probability of being the real winner was greater than a half and his rival’s less than a half.
I am praying for somebody in authority to heed what I’ve been saying for many days now on Twitter, that nobody’s guess as to which candidate is the real winner counts for anything when, by using comparatively little, well-targeted, random sampling and auditing and calculating, America could find out the objective truth of the matter. But do Americans want to find out the truth badly enough to want the authorities to take the small effort needed to find out the truth systematically and to prove the truth in court if necessary, using scientific evidence?
What evidence needs to be gathered?
At present, both Biden and Trump are scanning the horizon for “evidence” of vote fraud, the former (so-to-speak) with a telescope deliberately held to his blind eye (“I see no evidence”, to adapt a saying of Lord Admiral Nelson), the latter short-sightedly looking through the wrong end of his telescope, bogged down as he has become in detail in a proliferation of lawsuits about the minutiae rather than seeing the big picture.
Whichever of Trump and Biden has a good claim to be the real winner – something nobody really knows yet – would need to get hold of some additional data that would prove his claim objectively. The decision to do so favours neither candidate unless one candidate had more fraudulent votes than the other in a marginal state, something we don’t know yet.
It is the same data that is needed for proving or disproving both rival claims.
That data could be collected by neutral investigators, at public expense, for example, pursuant to a court order, or presidential executive order. If the US elections are to be seen to have been free and fair, that data must be collected and used to prove whichever of the rival claims to be the real winner is discovered to be true. However, it is not obvious that it has crossed the mind of either main candidate, still less the minds of any of the mainstream media, what readily available data it is that could be, and simply must be, collected and analysed scientifically.
What is needed is the random sampling of votes in the five marginal states, validation or invalidation of every sampled vote on the part of officials permitted to track down and to interview the voters whose apparent votes are in the samples, and the production, on the part of Bayesian statistics experts, of accurate estimates of what the counts of valid votes would be in the marginal states.
There seems to be a conspiracy afoot to portray the identity of the real winner as somehow unknowable. But any statistician will tell you that it is established science that by counting the prevalence of some property in a random sample of a set, one can make inferences about the probabilities of different prevalences of that property in the whole set. It is therefore not beyond the wit of mankind to find out who the real winner was, to any required degree of certainty, simply by attempting to validate a random selection of postal votes in each marginal constituency, by interviewing the voters in confidence as to whether (and perhaps how) they voted, assuming the voters exist (because they were not long dead by the time of the election, one well-used but easily-identified method of postal vote fraud) and actually live in the relevant state. If any deny having voted, this proves a different well-known type of postal vote fraud.
Measuring how many invalid votes each candidate received in a sample enables us to gauge out how many invalid votes that candidate received in that state as a whole, to an accuracy that can also be calculated. To have proved using such mathematics, applied to such data, that this or that candidate is more likely than not to be the real winner is to become able to prove in court that that candidate is the real winner to the civil standard of proof, which is only the balance of probabilities. QED. Nothing more than arithmetic justified by a few theorems in statistics and probability is needed, once one has the data from the samples.
Why not do this?
Why are Donald Trump and Joe Biden not in agreement with me, that finding out who the real winner was in this manner, which is feasible, would be worthwhile?
Rather, Trump is peddling a conspiracy theory that he is unlikely to be able to prove absent whistle-blowing, to the effect that the casting of fraudulent votes was centrally co-ordinated, whilst Democrats are (as it were) chanting a slogan “you have no evidence” that is based upon a preposterous, naive doctrine that there is no need to measure how much fraud there actually was, because the answer somehow must be zero. Unless, that is, Trump can provide “evidence” that says otherwise without anybody measuring the true extent of fraud and telling Trump (and the courts) how much fraud there actually was, which is the only evidence that matters.
The Democrats’ “presumption of zero fraud” doctrine is already refuted by anecdotal evidence. We already know that there was some fraud. With postal voting, there more-or-less always is. But anecdotal evidence cannot tell us how much fraud there was and whether the amount (and direction) of (net) fraud was enough to flip this or that state from Trump to Biden or vice versa. The USA therefore ought to measure how much fraud there was, wherever fraud is likely to affect the output from the algorithm (i.e. in marginal states), with an open mind as to what the repercussions will be of collecting the necessary data and calculating the truth from it.
The already discredited “presumption of zero fraud” doctrine mimics the “presumption of innocence” doctrine of criminal law. Trump’s provocative accusation of a “stolen” election therefore gives emotional force to the fallacy that rests on the Democrats’ false “presumption of zero fraud” doctrine. His accusation is of a huge criminal conspiracy in which even Biden himself might be complicit. Phrases like “guilty until proved innocent” and “beyond reasonable doubt” immediately arise in the Democrats’ minds, along with the nobly indignant emotions which those phrases evoke. From that indignation there may spring an unreasonable demand that Trump provides evidence that the level of fraud is not just non-zero but enough to affect the election’s outcome, before he be allowed to measure scientifically what the level of fraud actually was. But Trump did not need to make an accusation of criminal conspiracy and he doesn’t need to prove one to the criminal standard of proof. He merely needs to prove that he was the real winner of the election, to the civil standard of proof. Sampling, validation and calculation applying Bayesian statistics, will prove which candidate was the real winner far more easily than Trump could prove a conspiracy.
We don’t know who the real winner of the election was, none of us. Formulating this first as a problem of evidence and proof as these terms are understood by lawyers has created more heat than it has shed light and must stop. Formulating it first as a problem in mathematics and then recognising how little missing data we need to collect if we wish to solve the problem mathematically (and then show the courts our workings) is what I think Trump’s lawyers need to realise is the winning approach for them. (But only if the missing data supports their client’s claim to be the real winner.) Biden’s lawyers would do well to adopt this approach too, unless their client wants to lord it over a divided nation about half of whose adult population disputes his legitimacy and hates his guts, as the usurper and cheat who wasn’t willing to prove he hadn’t stolen the election when that is what it looked like to them.
I hope that both Trump and Biden pay attention to what I have been suggesting for several days now and agree to this plan to find out scientifically who the real winner is. This would be much better than their present, baseless posturing and insulting of one another. I shall be disappointed if the solvable mystery of who is the real winner remains unsolved, due to apathy towards truth, becoming instead like the earlier historic mysteries such as who Jack the Ripper was, or what became of the Princes in the Tower. The doctrine that we’ll never know the truth, whether Biden or Trump is the real winner because it is impossible to find out the truth, is a big fat lie.
Postscript added 22 November 2020
Since I wrote this piece, encouraging news has broken (here: Williams College Mathematician Flags up to 100,000 Ballots in Pennsylvania) that Mr Trump’s legal team have visibly moved towards using the numerate, quantitative approach I have suggested here is necessary, for finding out whether or not the election was (so-to-speak) “stolen”; whether “stolen” (that is) as the result of a heinous central conspiracy or (perhaps just as likely) as the cumulative effect of many instances of local, small-scale cheating that were not solicited by senior officials of the Democratic Party.
Although this piece did not set out to provide any evidence that rebutted any presumption of zero fraud, simply asserting that such evidence existed and questioning the assumption, Ark has tried so hard in the comments below to make something of this omission on my part that, ex gratia, I offer him (and any others who accuse me of making a “claim” of fraud without “evidence”) the following link, which arrived in my email today, for what it is worth: ‘There Was in Fact Fraud That Took Place:’ FEC Chairman Trey Trainor.
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