The irrelevance of economic theory to understanding economic ignorance

Critical Review 20 (3):195-258 (2008)

Jeffrey Friedman
University of California, Berkeley
Bryan Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter treats several immensely important and understudied topics—public ignorance of economics, political ideology, and their connection to policy error—from an orthodox economic perspective whose applicability to these topics is overwhelmingly disproven by the available evidence. Moreover, Caplan adds to the traditional and largely irrelevant orthodox economic notion of rational public ignorance the claim that when voters favor counterproductive economic policies, they do so deliberately, i.e., knowingly. This leads him to assume that “emotion or ideology” explain mass economic error. Straightforward, unchosen mass ignorance of economic principles—neither “rational” nor “irrational,” but simply mistaken—is a more coherent explanation for economic error, and it is backed up by the vast body of public‐opinion research
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DOI 10.1080/08913810802503418
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Voter Ignorance and the Democratic Ideal.Ilya Somin - 1998 - Critical Review 12 (4):413-458.

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