I hope the quote of my words above is not taken as a slight on Cara. I love Cara and think she is wonderful and that the SGU is lucky to have her and we are lucky to have her on the show. It's just that Julia Galef is one of my favorite public figures. (Along with Rebecca, and my number-one favorite person, violinist Hilary Hahn.) I never expected that the SGU could have gotten Julia. Oh, and I'd characterize the difference between the two shows as being that the SGU is a magazine-style science and skepticism show, while Rationally Speaking is more a philosophy show that tackles one issue per episode.
On the current episode with Jason Brennan, it was extremely interesting and thought-provoking. I have very mixed feelings about democracy. On the one hand, I feel it has utterly failed in the United States. On the other hand, what has failed here is really not democracy at all, nor has it ever been. In the last quarter century (post-reagan, who I think was senile) we have had two presidents who are arguably extremely stupid men. Both were elected by the electoral college against the popular majority, that went to their massively more-intelligent opponents. At the state level, gerrymandering has killed any real democracy. Wealthy conservatives backed state house candidates, who, when they got control of state houses, gerrymandered the federal legislative districts, which is why we have a Republican House today. Not democracy. Not the votes of the people, but cynical, crooked gerrymandering.
So, perhaps my conviction that democracy has failed is really not a judgement against democracy, but rather against the very undemocratic and crooked money politics of this nation.
Brennan didn't really answer to my satisfaction how the decision would be made of who gets to vote and who does not. Julia asked the questions, but never really got a better answer than, "Try it in some place small and see if it works."
I'd like to see gerrymandered districts eliminated in favor of straight-line grid-based districts, and all money and paid advertising eliminated from elections, in favor of equal free time to every candidate who qualifies for the ballot, and elimination of the automatic inclusion on the ballot of the nominees of established parties. Every candidate should have to qualify under one single set of rules.