People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

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Freakzilla
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People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Freakzilla » 28 Feb 2012 17:34

By Natalie Wolchover | LiveScience.com – 2 hrs 20 mins ago..

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, "very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is," Dunning told Life's Little Mysteries.

He and colleague Justin Kruger, formerly of Cornell and now of New York University, have demonstrated again and again that people are self-delusional when it comes to their own intellectual skills. Whether the researchers are testing people's ability to rate the funniness of jokes, the correctness of grammar, or even their own performance in a game of chess, the duo has found that people always assess their own performance as "above average" — even people who, when tested, actually perform at the very bottom of the pile. [Incompetent People Too Ignorant to Know It]

We're just as undiscerning about the skills of others as about ourselves. "To the extent that you are incompetent, you are a worse judge of incompetence in other people," Dunning said. In one study, the researchers asked students to grade quizzes that tested for grammar skill. "We found that students who had done worse on the test itself gave more inaccurate grades to other students." Essentially, they didn't recognize the correct answer even when they saw it.

The reason for this disconnect is simple: "If you have gaps in your knowledge in a given area, then you’re not in a position to assess your own gaps or the gaps of others," Dunning said. Strangely though, in these experiments, people tend to readily and accurately agree on who the worst performers are, while failing to recognize the best performers.

The most incompetent among us serve as canaries in the coal mine signifying a larger quandary in the concept of democracy; truly ignorant people may be the worst judges of candidates and ideas, Dunning said, but we all suffer from a degree of blindness stemming from our own personal lack of expertise.

Mato Nagel, a sociologist in Germany, recently implemented Dunning and Kruger's theories by computer-simulating a democratic election. In his mathematical model of the election, he assumed that voters' own leadership skills were distributed on a bell curve — some were really good leaders, some, really bad, but most were mediocre — and that each voter was incapable of recognizing the leadership skills of a political candidate as being better than his or her own. When such an election was simulated, candidates whose leadership skills were only slightly better than average always won.

Nagel concluded that democracies rarely or never elect the best leaders. Their advantage over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they "effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders."

http://news.yahoo.com/people-arent-smar ... 01411.html
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Freakzilla
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Freakzilla » 28 Feb 2012 17:38

Isn't democracy about doing what the majority wants, not what is necessarily best?
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby lotek » 28 Feb 2012 18:40

well we've been sold the complete package, as in what the majority wants is what's best.

Didn't work out so well though...
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Ampoliros » 28 Feb 2012 20:06

Leto II, the God Emperor 2012!
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby D Pope » 28 Feb 2012 20:37

It's a sad world.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby JustSomeGuy » 29 Feb 2012 00:25

Idiocracy, baby! :dance: And yeah, it can be kind of sad...
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby SandChigger » 29 Feb 2012 08:33

Freakzilla wrote:Isn't democracy about doing what the majority wants, not what is necessarily best?

No, I believe that is known as "mob rule". ;)

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ErasOmnius
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby ErasOmnius » 04 Mar 2012 14:12

We live in a republic. Electing people who will make the right decision.

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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Robspierre » 04 Mar 2012 14:30

ErasOmnius wrote:We live in a republic. Electing people who will make the right decision.




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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Freakzilla » 04 Mar 2012 15:09

That IS funny. Elections are popularity contests, nothing more. They have nothing to do with the ability to govern effectively.
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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Jodorowsky's Acolyte » 05 Mar 2012 14:37

Freakzilla wrote:That IS funny. Elections are popularity contests, nothing more. They have nothing to do with the ability to govern effectively.


I agree. People either go for candidates who are the most handsome/pretty or the most devout. Even people who profess to be unwavering and stubborn individuals fall into the trap of going for the candidate who is the most attractive or hardcore in their eyes.
'...all those who took part in the rise and fall of the Dune project learned how to fall one and one thousand times with savage obstinacy until learning how to stand. I remember my old father who, while dying happy, said to me: "My son, in my life, I triumphed because I learned how to fail."' -Alejandro Jodorowsky

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Re: People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish

Postby Crysknife » 07 Mar 2012 19:53

Rather than majority rule, it should be based on the Constitution. We all have rights that can't be taken away even if the majority want to.....it should work that way but sadly it's a constant battle. The majority of people in the U.S. want a single payer health system but we will never get it without a super majority in the congress, and even then, it will be a fight to the death....same with gay marriage(a majority of Americans now favor it).
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