Brexit, or evidence that direct democracy doesn’t work



This a brief post as my point is obvious but somehow David Cameron failed to realize this when he authorized the British electorate to determine whether or not the UK should remain in the EU. Simply put, a direct democracy  almost always leads to much worse decisions than a representative democracy when the problem involved is complex and important.

From all the information at my disposal, a Brexit is a terrible outcome. But, what is much clearer to me is that there shouldn’t have been a public vote on this issue in the first place. In fact, allowing people who have no training in economics or policy-making to decide whether the UK should remain in the EU is akin to allowing non-engineers design the wings for Airbus’ next passenger carrier. It’s just a terrible idea.

Perhaps, you can allow the British electorate decide what the color of the next British flag should be, but determining geopolitical policies for the UK is a complex and nuanced issue. Even the educated masses don’t have the ability to analyze this issue in any depth.

This is all I have to say but if you’d like to read more I can recommend the following article which argues that David Cameron could have learned something from the Founding Fathers. In fact, it concludes with exactly what I’m trying to say:

There is an inherent danger coming from direct democracy when combined with an uninformed and manipulated public that has to decide the policy of a country, as we saw on June 23 when 36 percent of eligible voters in the UK chose to exit the European Union. Again, this should not come as a surprise. In one sense, the Brexit referendum illustrates as much the failure of the experts and elected politicians as it shows that relying on the masses and populism can lead to suspect and potentially damaging decisions. In that sense, we have to guard ourselves against direct democracy being hijacked by demagogues and populists lest we have to endure the “tyranny of the majority” at the expense of wiser policies.




Brexit is bad for British science

-‘The future of British science’ by Wasily Kandinsky

If Britain leaves the EU, I believe that it will be a reflection of the fact that not enough people in this country care about science. Many can name Shakespeare and claim to have read some of his works but how many have tried to understand the contributions of
Newton or Galileo? At your average party, approximately zero.

How many British people think of how their vote might affect the future of British science and innovation before it’s cast? Considering a recent report prepared by Digital Science:

  1. A quarter of British public research funds depend on the EU for funding.
  2. EU research funding to the UK has topped £8.04bn, just behind the £8.34bn allocated to Germany.
  3. 41 per cent of public funding for cancer research in the UK, amounting to £126m;
  4. Only 7 per cent of research money allocated by the EU and European Research Council in the past decade has gone to non-member states and a lot of negotiation will probably be required in order to change this.
  5. Contrary to what Brexiters say, there’s no formal plan to replace the Horizon 2020 program with anything comparable.

It’s no surprise then that more than 83% of British scientists are against leaving the EU. Overall, we’re observing a Britain that’s increasingly afraid of immigrants. A Britain that’s obsessed with the risk of losing jobs and has no understanding of how a global economy works. An isolationist Britain that wants to break from the EU and will likely further break into pieces. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Scotland left the UK in order to remain in the EU and Ireland unified for the same reasons.

My hope is that a second EU referendum will be allowed or that the Brexit motion will be overturned by legislation. Otherwise, research will be made harder for many British scientists.