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?
Powered by ScribeFire.