TEDxYYC Speaker Highlight: David Moscrop

Apr 30, 2018

David Moscrop: Building a Better Democracy

David Moscrop is a political theorist and postdoctoral fellow in the Scholarly Communications Lab at Simon Fraser University. He studies information flows in the digital public sphere and democratic decision making. He completed his PhD in political science at the University of British Columbia in spring 2017.

He is currently working on a project focused on how knowledge circulates on the internet and what that means for citizen participation in contemporary democracies. Moscrop is a regular contributor to Maclean’s magazine and other radio, print, and television outlets offering political commentary and exploring democratic theory.

Moscrop has been fascinated by the democratic process since his undergraduate years. He was curious about voting decisions, and how people make them. He realized the system had a disconnect, and in fact, it had more than one. It could be gamed, people could be misled, and it became clear that the process often served interests beyond democracy. It could also be said that those with privilege could benefit disproportionately over marginalized groups.

His work is focused around the following questions:  why do we make bad political decisions, and how do we make better ones?

He takes a comprehensive look at the way things are currently done, and imagines how it could be better in the future. His goal is to explore how we could improve the structure of our democracy.

What is a good political decision?

Defining a good political decision is where it all begins, but even that is tricky. A good political decision doesn’t mean you agree with someone’s vote. It simply means that it is a good political decision for them, and for the situation. It should be both rational, and autonomous (Moscrop says autonomy is where gremlins get into the machine, or where the trouble starts.)

Ideally, democracy is when people cast their votes based on policy, not on identity. This means they vote for who they believe will act in alignment with their values, not just who they believe is most like them in party or demographic. However, it is our nature to assume the world is as we view it, and in doing so, we shape our world based on our perspective. Moscrop says we have a naive sense that the world is as we see it, but this is not true.

Most political writing is done in support of one party or another and is created to sway opinion of readers. He wanted to avoid this type of discussion altogether and instead shine a light on the process of political decision making.

Why speak at TEDxYYC?

Moscrop realized that it wasn’t just the idea of a better democracy that was driving him, but the thought of reaching more people with the idea. He made a choice to write a book that would appeal to a wider market rather than publishing something more academic for a narrower audience. The next step would be to get the idea and book out to as many people as possible. The broader message needs to reach a wider audience in order to make a difference.

TEDx events are great platforms for distributing timely and accessible stories, and their reputation precedes them as a valuable place to share important concepts. Their mission of sharing ideas worth spreading is exactly what Moscrop hopes to see happen.

Why you should see David Moscrop live at TEDxYYC 2018

Moscrop is hoping to reach an active population of thinkers ready to hear a new idea and be influenced by it. He says when it comes to democracy, we think we have it figured out, so we don’t see the gaps. And when we don’t see the gaps, democracy itself can fall apart. It’s not just possible. Democracy can and does fall apart. We don’t see what we don’t see.

He knows full inclusiveness is still very new, and in truth some groups are still excluded. There are two things that will be important if we are to enjoy a better use of the democracy we’re so proud of: personal practices and institutional changes. Ideally the concept reaches enough people that we build a critical mass pushing for more, and better, in their governing and democratic processes. What if you could be a part of it?

Watch for Moscrop’s first book Too Dumb for Democracy? Why we Make Bad Political Decisions and How we Can Make Better Ones, scheduled for release by Goose Lane Editions in the spring of 2019.

We look forward to welcoming David Moscrop to the TEDxYYC 2018 stage! Don’t wait – buy your tickets now!

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