The Myth of the Rational Voter was Re: [FoRK] What is Reason?

Jeff Bone <jbone at> on Mon May 7 07:27:13 PDT 2007

On May 7, 2007, at 12:28 AM, Albert S. wrote:

> I like your exposition on the political implications
> of accusing others of non-reason.

I plugged this book here earlier, pre-publication, just on the basis  
of familiarity w/ the author;  I finally received my copy last week  
and it's WELL worth the read.


Summary --- the often discussed "dilemma of democracy" is the  
question of how a group of mostly-ignorant (on the relevant issues)  
voters can, though democratic processes, produce desirable  
governmental outcomes.  The usual escape hatch is this:  if you  
assume that the choices made by ignorant voters are randomly  
distributed, then they will tend to cancel each other out --- and  
hence the educated voters, acting rationally, will cast votes that by  
comparison have more weight, and the desirable outcome is therefore  

The problem is this:  there's a huge amount of evidence to suggest  
that the ignorant voters do not in fact vote randomly.  They appear  
to have systematic biases that indeed are "non-rational" --- i.e.  
effecting outcomes that are demonstrably not in their own best  

jb sez check it out.



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