[Fear of being wrong is] why the quality of discussion is forever spiraling into the drain. People are afraid to be wrong. Tactical voting exists because people are afraid they won’t have voted for the winner (or a close runner up). It’s why ‘mediums’ and psychics exist and flourish (despite being Bullsh*t), and why people still turn to watercures, or homeopathy and believe in Astrology (again, all bullsh*t) and why Creationism has been a hotly contested topic over the last 15 years in school districts across the US – despite there being zero evidence to support a creationist argument.
I do feel obliged to add a minor disclaimer here. Although I agree with the thrust of Norton’s argument I would dispute his inclusion of tactical voting in the above quote. From a UK perspective, the First Past The Post voting system leads to most votes being wasted – unless you are a floating voter in a Midlands marginal, your vote really doesn’t matter. Under this system, people turn to tactical voting in an effort to keep out the candidate that they find most objectionable because they know that their preferred candidate doesn’t have a hope of being elected.
A more modern electoral system would, of course, remove the need for tactical voting. And this is why it’s so depressing that the UK electorate collectively decided that they were too stupid to count when given the opportunity.