What Would We Do Without Experts?

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on March 5, 2015

What Would We Do Without Experts?

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.

What Would We Do Without Experts?
“Smartphones Are Addictive, Say Experts”—headline, Independent Online (South Africa), March 4

Other Than That, the Story Was Accurate
“Because of an editing error, an Op-Ed article on Tuesday misstated the change the writer experienced while imprisoned in Egypt. He abandoned the ideology of Islamism—not of Islam.”—New York Times, March 4

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog offers a painfully simple “explanation” of gerrymandering:

Suppose we have a very tiny state of fifty people. Thirty of them belong to the Blue Party, and 20 belong to the Red Party. And just our luck, they all live in a nice even grid with the Blues on one side of the state and the Reds on the other.

The “people” are represented by little squares arranged in five rows of 10, with the leftmost two rows colored red and the rightmost ones blue. Thick black lines then divide the squares into “districts” three ways: By column (which yields “perfect representation,” two red and three blue districts), by row (which is “compact, but unfair,” producing a 5-0 blue majority), and in a more complicated pattern (which is “neither compact nor fair,” yielding a 3-2 majority).

Here’s how Ingraham describes the last option:

Finally, what if the Red Party controls the state government? The Reds know they’re at a numeric disadvantage. But with some creative boundary drawing—the type you see in grid 3, “neither compact nor fair”—they can slice the Blue population up such that they only get a majority in two districts. So despite making up 40 percent of the population, the Reds win 60 percent of the seats. Not bad!

“In the real world,” he writes, “this is similar to what we see in Pennsylvania.” Left unanswered is the question of how the “Red Party” managed to control the state government in the first place if it is “at a numeric disadvantage.”

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”