"Can anyone offer suggestions for how to convince the owner that setting up a test suite is in his own best interest?"
What bullshit. Perhaps the question you should ask is, "How can I determine whether setting up a test suite is in his best interest?" But if you insist on pursuing an answer to your original question, you might want to dedicate some time to other questions, like figuring out how to convince people that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together, or that people's astrological signs play an important role in determining their personalities, or that ingesting colloidal silver is a solution to a wide range of health problems.
You are part of the problem.
I believe you may be falling prey to what Kurzweil warns about in his response to Meyers: linear thinking. Things go from impossible to inevitable without us much noticing. The bottom of a parabola looks a lot like a horizontal line.
Let's say Kurzweil has been too optimistic about the rate of growth of our understanding of the way the brain works. Assuming the exponent on the rate of growth of our knowledge and technology is greater than one, and assuming that Penrose and Searle are full of it—which they IMO are—and there isn't some mystical quantum mechanical woo-woo that is just as irrational as the Silicon Valley Deepak Chopra mumbo-jumbo that Meyers's crew accuses the Singularity Crows of pedaling, Kurzweil will ultimately be vindicated, even if he—or his cyborg replacement body—is not around to say, "I told you so."
This is a pointless argument over definitions, but since you're attempting to co-opt for your own purposes the definition of a highly valuable piece of definitional real estate, I'm going to bite.
What you describe as "democracy" is not democracy. That everyone has the freedom to take their marbles and go home (i.e. create their own distribution) is not democracy. It's freedom. Freedom and democracy are related in that the latter is often seen as a way of achieving the former.
Democracy denotes a broad range of methods for collective decision making, among them representative and direct democracy.
An open source project is whatever the hell you want it to be. "Whatever the hell you want" is not democracy. That is freedom, to a first order approximation. The organizational and social and economic dynamics of free software vis-a-vis proprietary code are subtle and multilayered and not suited to simplistic reduction to a term like democracy.
Yes, but while there may not be right and wrong opinions, opinions can definitely be either thoughtful or stupid. A case in point: Rails likes to give your database tables plural names. This is a stupid opinion. I explained this on #rubyonrails years ago, but it seems that the developers, DHH included, were so enamored with their pluralize method that they didn't want to rip it out and do the sane thing.
It's convention over configuration, not instead of configuration, I read in another comment. Well, I tried to configure Rails to not pluralize table names...and Rails broke. If the pull of tradition and convention is so strong that very few people stray out of the ruts worn into the beaten path, deciding to break with convention means fixing all the latent bugs in the system.
One of the reasons to prefer singular table names is that it improves Rails's interoperability with the applications that either want to supply data to or consume data created by Rails. Web apps do not exist in a vacuum. I was told by DHH that such things were outside the scope of Rails, and therefore those pluralize calls would stay for the rest of eternity. And thus everyone who has their first involvement with relational databases using Rails becomes brain damaged. Hooray for opinionated software?
I soured on Rails early, though I have tried to go back to it on occasion, only to find that the hype still exceeds the reality by a significant factor. I'm very much a right-tool-for-the-job kind of person, but I haven't come across a project where a feature in Rails makes it uniquely suited to the situation over something like Django.
Don't get me wrong, I think Rails gave web development frameworks a much-needed wake-up call. The Java way of doing things circa 2004 was horrible. But Rails has no monopoly on smart developers -- an understatement? -- and smart developers are quick to adopt good ideas.
One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.