Friday, 17 December 2004

Incurable ignorance?

Greg Goelzhauser has returned from haïtus at Crescat Sententia with some thoughts in response to Dan Herzog on whether or not the public is “incurably ignorant” about politics. My general thought on such matters, oft-repeated here, is that any democratic society in which it might be rational for the public at large* to not be ignorant about anything beyond the most trivial of political matters would be incredibly unstable politically.

That said, Greg’s point about social norms is well-taken; knowing things about politics is excellent fodder for cocktail-party discussion, even if the details don’t matter for voting behavior one whit.† Clearly the answer, then, is to invite more people to attend cocktail parties, a program I’d fully support.

* As opposed to journalists, high school civics teachers, political science professors (at least those who teach American politics courses), and politicians, who have various incentives to know and care who the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is.
† It is hard to conceive of how knowledge of current political events in Darfur or the Ukraine, for example, might impact one’s voting decisions or other forms of meaningful political participation.

1 comment:

Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.

The aforementioned blog has not been posted to in a week.
[The Rams are beyond verpisht! The season is over! Fire Martz!]
As the daughter of a political scientist, I think that individuals acquiring political information is important to encourage political participation beyond voting. Political participation is important to assure that the government is more accountable to the people and to focus political activities on civil society. Individuals also make decisions based on ideology, which contributes to the stability of society. Political information can show that their ideologies are false and improve the rationality of society. Also, when the MSM substitutes disinformation for information, there is no excuse. Nice blog. Merry Christmas :)

Comments are now closed on this post.