Scholarly papers are ranked by voting (citations). This idea is the basis for Google search. Each link to a page counts as a vote for it.
Ideally your experiment would persuade reviewers that scholarly papers and search results are currently very wrongly ranked.
Yes, Google brought order to the web, but it brought a very bad order to the web. It put the superficial above the substantial…
What is God? It is only a subject that has inspired some of the finest writing in the history of Western civilization — and yet the first two pages of Google results for the question are comprised almost entirely of Sweet’N Low evangelical proselytizing to the unconverted. (The first link the Google algorithm served me was from the Texas ministry, Life, Hope & Truth.) The Google search for God gets nowhere near Augustine, Maimonides, Spinoza, Luther, Russell, or Dawkins. Billy Graham is the closest that Google can manage to an important theologian or philosopher. For all its power and influence, it seems that Google can’t really be bothered to care about the quality of knowledge it dispenses. It is our primary portal to the world, but has no opinion about what it offers, even when that knowledge it offers is aggressively, offensively vapid. — Franklin Foer, The Death of the Public Square
Google is merely giving us what’s popular, what’s most clicked upon, not what’s worthy. You can hurl every insult at the old public sphere, but it never exhibited such frank indifference to the content it disseminated. — Franklin Foer, The Death of the Public Square
It isn’t really news, in a certain circle at least, that democracy is all about the lowest common denominator…
In the first instance, it is probably true that in general the higher the education and intelligence of individuals becomes, the more their views and tastes are differentiated and the less likely they are to agree on a particular hierarchy of values. It is a corollary of this that if we wish to find a high degree of uniformity and similarity of outlook, we have to descend to the regions of lower moral and intellectual standards where the more primitive and “common” instincts and tastes prevail. This does not mean that the majority of people have low moral standards; it merely means that the largest group of people whose values are very similar are the people with low standards. It is, as it were, the lowest common denominator which unites the largest number of people. If a numerous group is needed, strong enough to impose their views on the values of life on all the rest, it will never be those with highly differentiated and developed tastes it will be those who form the “mass” in the derogatory sense of the term, the least original and independent, who will be able to put the weight of their numbers behind their particular ideals. - Friedrich Hayek, Why the Worst Get on Top
That is from the FEE.org website. Donors to that organization aren’t given the freedom to use their donations to improve the ranking of their preferred articles. In other words, FEE itself isn’t a market. It touts the benefits of markets but it isn’t actually a market. Therefore, FEE doesn’t truly understand what markets are good for.
If you ask an economist what markets are good for then he’s going to have an answer. But if you ask him whether FEE should be a market, then he is going to scratch his head. Same thing if you ask him whether Netflix should be a market. Even more so if you ask him whether the public sector should be a market.
Ideally your experiment would help everybody see and understand what markets are good for. By juxtaposing how differently voting and donating rank things, you’d demonstrate that markets are good for ranking things.
Your paper would be the most useful paper ever because it would demonstrate that markets are the most useful for revealing how relatively useful things are.
Then what? FEE would become a market, so would Netflix, and then the public sector. People would be free to use their taxes to rank public goods. We’d have a market in the public sector and a market in the private sector. However, the public sector market wouldn’t have prices, so there would be no point in trying to get a “deal”. This means that the amount of money you spent on a public good would more accurately reflect your true perception of its usefulness. As a result of this more truthful input, the public sector would become more and more useful to people. People would want to spend more and more money in the public sector… and it would grow and grow while the private sector would shrink and shrink until it was completely gone.
The tax rate would be 100%, but everything would be free. You’d use your money to improve the ranking of the things you prefer. The more money you made, the more influence you’d have on the rankings.
Society’s economic enlightenment will have immense implications.
We use markets all the time but obviously their usefulness hasn’t been formally demonstrated. Deng Xiaoping created a market in China and millions of people were lifted out of poverty. This informally demonstrated that markets are incredibly useful. But informal demonstrations are sadly not enough, otherwise people would already appreciate that it is a problem that FEE, Netflix and the public sector aren’t markets.
Basically your experiment should convince reviewers, and society in general, that markets are the most useful tool ever.