Sunday, March 16, 2008

Political Alchemy and the Mirage of Aggregation

Economist Bryan Caplan, whose runaway political science hit The Myth of the Rational Voter hit the scene late last year like a ton of bricks, recently spoke at the SxSW Interactive festival in Austin, TX (affectionately called ATX by locals, I found out last year). Here is one summary/response to his talk. Here is his own summary of the experience. And here is an online experiment inspired by Bryan's talk (with lots of insightful commentary).

If you haven't familiarized yourself with Caplan's book, you really are missing out on one of the most important contributions to public choice and democratic critique of the last 10 years (and it's not just me who thinks so). His basic argument could be glibly summarized in the Homer Simpson quote: "When will people learn, democracy doesn't work?" But of course there's a little more to it than that.

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