Are the elites worse than you think?

Here is a new and important paper by Joshua D. Kertzer, noting that it mainly confirms what I observe every day (aren’t those the very best research studies?)  Here is part of the abstract:

…political scientists both overstate the magnitude of elite-public gaps in decision-making, and misunderstand the determinants of elite-public gaps in political attitudes, many of which are due to basic compositional differences rather than to elites’ domain-specific expertise.

My rewrite of his sentence is that elites are arguing from their class and demographic biases (a bias can be positive, to be clear), not from their expertise.  That lowers the marginal value of expertise, at least given how our world operates.  I recall earlier research blogged by Alex showing that if you are a French economist, your views are more influenced by being a French person than by being an economist.  And so on.

This is one of the very most fundamental facts about our world, and elites are among the people least likely to have internalized it.

Have a nice day.


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