Presidential Simulations

An article in OpedNews.Com by Andrew Bard Schmookler argues that US presidents should take part in a televised simulation, as part of the election process.

Dr Schmookler asks: “wouldn’t it be good if we could see how well those running for the presidency can ask the necessary questions of the appropriate people, probe to get the relevant information, and make good decisions?”

In these simulations: “the participants are delivered news of some emerging crisis in the world. The group then seeks to learn as much as possible about the situation and to decide how to respond. News continues to come in, at intervals during the course of the simulation, and how the group responds also influences how the crisis unfolds…. each candidate who meets some agreed-upon threshold of support in the polls would be the head of a group of advisors selected by him/herself to form an acting “National Security Council.” Each candidate would be free, as presidents are, to run the group as s/he wishes…..The simulations might last for, say, two days (with time off, presumably, for sleep). The deliberations of each group could be continuously televised on a specific C-Span station, available for any American to watch. The other news media could provide what they regard as the important highlights.”

Yes, well. Im a bit pessimistic about political/ diplomatic simulations. Dr Schmookler says: “The simulations should be designed by people with deep knowledge of international relations, terrorism, diplomacy, or whatever are the realms being simulated. In addition, all necessary steps should be taken to assure that the design of the simulations has integrity and does not stack the deck in favor of one side….It is possible to conduct a good and realistic simulation, and the participants seem to have no difficulty treating the simulated events with the utmost seriousness.”

But look at the precedents: the World Economic Forum, the US National Commission on Energy Policy, the Atlantic Monthly simulation, the mysterious Divine Strake affair or the fantastic adventures of MNE4.

Ive argued elsewhere that simulation works better with subjects that can be more accurately measured., but that its success in these areas leads to unjustified extrapolation. Or see this article in JASSS, which puts it better than I did. If Dr Schmookler had any idea of the complexity of social science simulations, I dont think hed be saying this. I just dont think politics and simulations mix.

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