the myth of rational (or any other kind of) political “science”?

In his WSJ review of Bryan Caplan’s new book, Daniel Casse writes,

Economists such as Anthony Downs and Gordon Tullock have argued that, because one particular vote is unlikely to sway an election, there is little incentive for any individual to invest his time in learning about the issues under discussion during a campaign. Fortunately, they say, because voting is scattered and random, such “rational ignorance” is harmless. This view has become a shibboleth of most economic and political-science departments.

If only. If only it was the case that political scientists are rational-ignorance theorists who are wrong, or even in denial. My experience after a year as a faculty member in a political science department is that political scientists more closely resemble the subjects in Caplan’s cover illustration (and indeed the book itself) than theorists of any kind, wrong or otherwise. Cynical? Jaded? Tired? Moi?

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3 thoughts on “the myth of rational (or any other kind of) political “science”?

  1. Martin

    Thank you!… I found the book maddening for its illogical and contradictory arguments, mangled terms, cultural prejudice, and a whole lot of other weaknesses. It’s also pretty scary when you really think about what he is arguing for. Like a lot of cloistered academics, he’s hermetically sealed inside his own thinking and theories, and totally unhinged from the real world… past and present. I won’t recap the whole list of objections here… but it’s on my site. (


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