Voters are very ignorant, and that should terrify you

Voters are very ignorant about the basic facts of politics. This is where Americans fall when asked what the US government spends the most on: And here is how the money is actually spent: As I’ve often asked before, how can we possibly expect voters to elect the right people if they know so little […]

When ignorance trumps incentives

When something bad happens it is often helpful to think about why it has happened in two ways: did someone have a reason to make it happen, or did it happen by accident? This can also be expressed in a slightly different way: were incentives to blame, or ignorance? Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Kraus have made a compelling argument […]

Politics makes us ‘stupid’ because the world is complex

Ezra Klein has launched his new site,, with an essay on ‘how politics makes us stupid’. The piece is provocative, and Klein uses some interesting examples. Most striking is the study that shows that people’s maths skills get worse when the problem they’re dealing with has a political element and goes against their political […]

There was no British housing bubble

Marcus Nunes graphed the Housing Stock to Population ratio in the US recently, showing that housing reached something like a steady-state in the US from the mid-1980s onwards. As Philip Stephens says, “The constructing in US housing was exactly what was needed to maintain the housing-population ratio in the face of increased population growth. You […]

The problem with democracy

The public is ignorant about politics and lacks even the basic facts that it would need to make sound judgments about political issues. A new poll by Ipsos-MORI shows just how deep this ignorance is. Among other things, the poll found that: 29% of people think we spend more on JSA than pensions, when in […]