A New York Times study describes how both red and blue states use public education to indoctrinate students in their preferred ideologies. This dynamic should dampen hopes that public education can fix the problem of widespread political ignorance.
Study Finds Almost 40 Percent of People in Eight European Nations Would Like to Live "in a World Where Chemical Substances Don't Exist"
Such scientific ignorance is common in th US as well, and can have a harmful influence on government policy.
The article is now available on SSRN.
Historian Stephen Davies provides a good explanation of why fringe "cultic milieu" ideas are growing in influence. It's a troubling development, but not one that should lead us to categorically abjure non-mainstream political ideas.
The dispute over Harvard's decision to rescind the admission of Parkland shooting survivor/gun rights activist Kyle Kashuv should remind us of the reasons why we should not have given any special status to his views in the first place. The same goes for most others in similar situations.
The awful ideology of the perpetrator of the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand is one of many examples of how far-right nationalists and far-left socialists have more in common than we often think. Both worldviews rest on the dangerous assumption that the we are locked in a zero-sum game in which some groups can only succeed and prosper at the expense of others.
An Atlantic article makes the case that some very privileged people don't want to hear from the other side.
Canadian columnist Andrew Coyne explains why efforts to combat fake news by cutting off supply are barking up the wrong tree.
The result is consistent with lots of other evidence of widespread ignorance and bias influencing public opinion on political and scientific issues.
Introduction to my book "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter" Now Available on SSRN
The Introduction to the revised second edition summarizes the rest of the book, and is available for free.
Should We Let Children Vote? The Troubling Implications of Standard Reasons for Rejecting a Flawed Idea
Few will agree with Cambridge political scientist David Runciman's proposal to lower the voting age to 6. But standard reasons for rejecting the idea raise serious questions about many adult voters, too.
Bush lost because voters punished him for the recession of the early 1990s - an event he did not cause. This is just one example of a broader phenomenon of voters rewarding and punishing politicians for things they do not control.
Why a New Brexit Referendum Would Not be a "Betrayal" of Democracy [updated with response to Ryan Bourne]
If referenda are a legitimate mechanism for making political decisions, then it is also legitimate for them to be overruled by new referenda. Those who live by the referendum sword risk dying by it.
Democracy is clearly superior to despotism. But libertarians are still right to worry about voter ignorance and advocate tighter constraints on government power.
Values are important. But so is factual knowledge about public policy. In some ways, the significance of values actually makes the problem of voter ignorance more pressing, not less so.
No, We're Not on the Brink of Civil War. But the Reasons Why We're Not Are Far From Entirely Reassuring.
Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the U.S. is not on the brink of civil war. But the explanation for that is far from entirely reassuring.
The debate over the sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh is a striking example of partisan bias at work.
Legal scholar and National Constitution Center President Jeffrey Rosen explains how many of the Constitution's safeguards against "mob rule" have frayed. His description of the problem is compelling, though he is less strong on possible solutions.
Efforts on both right and left to make the democracy-promotion the key focus of constitutional law should be rejected.
Canadian columnist Marcus Gee has an excellent article on how political ignorance exacerbates the challenges of voting for a lesser evil. But the problem is in some ways even worse than he suggests. At the same time, there is much we can do to improve the quality of our decisions.
Economist Dambisa Moyo is right to worry about the dangers of political ignorance. But her proposed solution for the problem falls short.
The BU Law Review Online has a symposium on this important new book, with contributions by Richard Epstein, Dan Markovits, K. Sabeel Rahman , David B. Lyons, and myself.
Recent events such as the student walkout to promote gun control raise the issue of how much credibility we should give to the political views of the young, and victims of crime. At least as a general rule, there is no reason to give those views any special credence.
A recent Virginia election decided by one vote has given new life to the mantra that "every vote counts." But the chance of a single vote making a difference remains extraordinarily low, and this reality incentivizes voters to be ignorant and biased.