Myth of the Rational Voter
Prof. Bryan Caplan discusses his controversial book, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. His thesis is that a majority of voters err in their thinking on economics issues, and that these errors can be grouped under 4 different irrational biases, which Caplan calls the make-work bias, the anti-foreign bias, the pessimistic bias, and the anti-market bias. These errors make it difficult to enact effective policies through the democratic process. Caplan’s argument responds to the claim in conventional public choice theory that voters are rationally ignorant, as well as to critics of that theory.
Credits: This lecture was delivered in 2009 at the Metropolitan State College of Denver School of Business, as part of the Exploring Economic Freedom Lecture Series, directed by Prof. Alexandre Padilla. This video was produced and directed by Scott Houck, and edited by Adrienne Christy. Video production provided by the Educational Technology Center at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Video used by Learn Liberty with permission.
- The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies [Book]: Bryan Caplan describes why it is difficult to enact effective policies through democratic processes.
- The Myth of the Rational Voter Overview and Debate (Video): Bryan Caplan and Scott Keeter discuss Caplan’s book, The Myth of the Rational Voter.
- Public Choice [Audio]: Ben Powell discusses the implications of applying economics analysis to the political process.
- Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem [Article]: A brief overview of Kenneth Arrow’s proof that there is no method for constructing social preferences from arbitrary individual preferences.
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