Rational Ignorance occurs when the cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the potential benefit that the knowledge would provide. Bryan Caplan, a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia whose professional work has been devoted to the philosophies of libertarianism and free-market capitalism and anarchism… has theorized that voters’ anomalous beliefs cannot be attributed solely to rational ignorance; he states that irrational systemic bias Systemic which is the inherent tendency of a process to favor particular outcomes.
Now let us consider the recent outcome in Iowa where 8 votes decided the outcome, The closest decision that has occurred in my life time, if anyone person who went to the caucuses had not went would the outcome been affected? It would be irrational to think that any one vote would determine an election of any magnitude. Now consider if 100 of the caucuses voters were ignorance of the issues involved, would the outcome have been rational? Would a better decision have been made had the uninformed stayed home?
Politician play on our Rational Ignorance, they know that a great many of us are way to busy in our live a day, work a day, be with the kids, study for work or school, laundry, cooking, etc., to inform ourselves about all the issues confronting us. They hit us with TV and radio ads when we are relaxed form our day, or driving our cars and robo call us on the phone. They tell us bad things about their opponents, and good things about themselves, shaping the issues to make it appear as though they are the solution. And for way too many this is as far as their education of the issues get.
Now consider this from chapter six of Mein Kampf: “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be extended in this direction…..”
“All effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered.” It seems to me that this lesson has been taken to heart by many politicians.
Is there a way to escape the bonds of our Rational Ignorance? I believe that there is. No one can become an expert on every single issue that faces us a society, but we can develop a world view, and then pick a party that most accurately reflects that view. Then vote the party not the man. Politicians have allegiances to their parties, and will vote while in office according to that allegiance more often than not.
If you hold a socialistic world view you would be foolish to vote for a Conservative regardless of how much you like the man, for he will not advance your cause. Conversely, if you believe that the individual should have as much power as possible and the group hold as little sway over him as possible you would be foolish to vote for a Progressive, for they will not advance your cause.
In this way it is possible to make a rational decision without spending a lot of times studying the issues. There is a caveat however; you have to keep an eye on your parity to make sure that its worldview has not changed as time goes by. Consider the Democratic Parity in its shift from classicist liberalism to Progressivism. And the Republication Party shift from small government conservationism to large government conservationism.