Preferences Are Not Transitive

This is the most pointless, nerdy thing imaginable, but I’m going to post it anyway. As you may know, Britain has basically three options when it comes to Brexit:

  • Remain: cancel the whole thing and stay in the EU.
  • May Deal: go ahead with Brexit on the terms negotiated by prime minister Theresa May.
  • No Deal: exit the EU with no deal at all in place.

A recent poll asked the British public what they thought about each of these options. Here’s how they responded:

Take a careful look at this:

  • Remain is preferred to the May Deal.
  • The May Deal is preferred to No Deal
  • But No Deal is preferred to Remain.

This is an example of a hoary old political science result: namely that preferences are not transitive. Even if you prefer A to B, and B to C, you might still prefer C to A. However, real-life examples of this are hard to find, and textbooks often have to resort to obviously clunky, made-up examples. But this one is real! Textbook authors everywhere will be eternally grateful to the British public for this.


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