Deliberative Polling® is a unique form of public consultation that aims to improve the quality of democratic decision-making by allowing citizens to engage in informed and respectful dialogue about complex policy issues. The concept was originated in 1988 by Professor James Fishkin, the Janet M. Peck Chair of International Communication, Director of the Deliberative Democracy Lab (DDL) at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Through Deliberative Polling®, citizens can exchange views, consider alternative perspectives, and arrive at informed and considered opinions on matters that affect them. In recent years, Deliberative Polling® has gained recognition as a valuable tool for enhancing democratic governance and promoting citizen engagement in public decision-making.
On Thursday, May 25, the 2023 Nobel Prize Summit on “Truth, Trust and Hope,” organized by the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, invites you to participate in a citizen deliberation. DDL, in partnership with Summit organizers, will run an exercise in large-scale group deliberation on the subject of online misinformation and polarization and what to do about it. This demonstration will help develop the capacity to democratically vet policy proposals concerning the information landscape. Participants will together learn about how to shape such deliberations for our larger societies, and also learn some of the issues around currently proposed policies regarding online media platforms. Participants will be engaged in several hours of small group deliberation as well as plenary sessions with prominent experts who will answer questions from the small groups. The demonstration will culminate in a panel with Fishkin (Stanford), Professor Saul Perlmutter of Berkeley, and Professor Åsa Wikforss, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Stockholm.
Professor Perlmutter, a Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics, played a key role in organizing the event and chairing the committee that developed the briefing materials on online misinformation. “Policies and regulations to address online misinformation all need some form of citizen oversight to ensure that governments and industries aren’t inappropriately constraining or influencing public speech,” Professor Perlmutter commented. The Deliberative Polling® event will introduce the use of such public participatory techniques on this issue to provide oversight, piloting the idea for future applications with representative samples.
Perlmutter added that “the Summit event will be a partial demonstration of the deliberation aspects — it won’t have the randomly selected statistically representative sample — but we have found these demonstrations to be an important way to learn about such deliberative techniques and to engage participants in the deliberation topic’s tradeoffs and competing arguments. For almost a decade, we have run mock Deliberative Poll® events in the Berkeley scientific-style critical thinking course, Sense and Sensibility and Science.”
Professor Fishkin commented, “Engaging in moderated deliberation is a unique experience that will bring to life the public dialogue we should be having about this issue. The Nobel Prize Summit is an excellent opportunity to pilot listening to the people on this urgent topic. Deliberative Polling® has been applied in 120 projects around the world on many complex topics, and this one poses special challenges with novel trade-offs.”
The online deliberations will take place on the Stanford Online Deliberation Platform developed by the Crowdsourced Democracy Team (CDT) at Stanford and the DDL, especially Associate Director Alice Siu. The Crowdsourced Democracy Team is directed by Professor Ashish Goel in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford.
Participate in the Demonstration
There are multiple opportunities to join this exercise! Join us on May 25, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm PT. This session is built into the 2023 Nobel Prize Summit programming. You can join the deliberations virtually whether or not you are at the summit in person. You can also join this deliberation exercise on several dates before the summit.