Hold Your Applause, Voters


Bryan Caplan, author of the fantabulous new book The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, says boo to applause –for politicians:

You can say "it's only human" to clap for our spokesmen, but consider the consequences. Audiences are giving speakers powerful psychological incentives to conceal any information that challenges their beliefs. Why not just hold up big signs that say: "TELL US WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR"?

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  1. He’s got an interesting point.

  2. WTF?! Politics is, and is supposed to be, a popularity contest. They’re supposed to represent the voters. The more feedback, the smoother it should operate.

  3. JsD,
    What he’s got, is an obvious point. But I guess it needs to be made. Every other year the same politicians (sometimes with new names and faces) tell the same lies. And everybody with an interest in politics talk about which lies which politician is telling. The day after the election, none of it matters. But the voters want to be lied to. They insist on it.

  4. Caplan doesn’t believe voters should, as Mencken put it, get what they want “good and hard.”

    I’d say it depends on what issue the market is signaling about, but I would still prefer it if such signaling occurred via the hurling of over-ripe vegetables at the candidates.

  5. Caplan also wrote a guest post at the Economist, and I discuss his “thinking abilities” at the link.

    Funny sidenote: see what happened to the comment I left here:

    That’s how I know it’s working.

  6. Why do we get more Princess Bride references here than Mencken quotes?

  7. Why do we get more Princess Bride references here than Mencken quotes?

    Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

  8. maybe “Leaders” should not be leaders…but rather representatives….

    Oh wait.

    never mind

  9. The error is in thinking “leaders” are necessary in the first place.
    They are always the problem. Never the solution.

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