Ignorance is Not Stupidity, Redux

Co-conspirator Ken Anderson draws my attention to Alan Wolfe’s statement that “Americans are most certainly misinformed. Dumb they are not.” This of course is exactly what I have been saying for years: political ignorance is widespread, but isn’t necessarily a sign of stupidity. To the contrary, being ignorant about politics is, for most voters, actually rational behavior, as is doing a poor job of evaluating the political information they do possess. I also find myself in agreement with Alan Wolfe in his skepticism about Derek Bok’s paternalistic policy proposals (though for different reasons). If voters tend to be ignorant and often illogical in their evaluation of the information they know, transferring more power to government in order to adopt paternalistic policies will only increase the impact of the types of cognitive errors paternalists seek to correct.

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