Democratic ignorance

From Science via io9

You might think that democracies work best when people care and know about the key issues. But a new study argues that for a democracy to function at all, you need lots of ignorant people blindly siding with the majority.

That’s the argument put forward by Princeton researcher Iain Couzin and his team, who make the argument that a fully informed electorate would collapse into an unworkable hodgepodge of minority factions or risk being dominated by a single forceful minority group. But if most voters don’t really think about the issues, they will just tend to side with whoever is popular, allowing majority rule to continue and democracy to keep functioning. Yeah, you might want to check your last shreds of political idealism at the door for this one.

Sounds like a very interesting study into voter behaviour. The thing is, it’s not. It was a study on animal behaviour, performed with a school of golden shiner fish. Still, interesting stuff.


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