*Critical Review* symposium on Ilya Somin on democratic ignorance

You’ll find it here, ungated.  Ilya’s book, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, argues we pay a heavy price for democratic ignorance.  In this symposium, a variety of academics dissent from his argument.  Thomas Christiano’s piece for instance is entitled “Voter Ignorance is Not Necessarily a Problem,” here is one bit:

The second [premise of Somin] is that voter ignorance betokens bad public policy. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. How can this be the case? One explanation is that individually ignorant voters are small pieces of a large system that divides intellectual labor through discussions among elites, opinion leaders, and ordinary citizens. This system may entitle voters to trust in the opinions of others, sparing them the need to be well informed.

Here is Benjamin Page:

Ilya Somin’s Democracy and Political Ignorance suffers from the fallacy of composition: It uses individual-level evidence about political behavior to draw inferences about the preferences and actions of the public as a whole. But collective public opinion is more stable, consistent, coherent, and responsive to the best available information, and more reflective of citizens’ underlying values and interests, than are the opinions of most individual citizens.

Let’s ask them again later today!

Here is Ilya’s response to his critics.


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