That Same Old Song: Somin on Political Ignorance

Benjamin I Page*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ilya Somin's Democracy and Political Ignorance suffers from the fallacy of composition: It uses individual-level evidence about political behavior to draw inferences about the preferences and actions of the public as a whole. But collective public opinion is more stable, consistent, coherent, and responsive to the best available information, and more reflective of citizens’ underlying values and interests, than are the opinions of most individual citizens. Because Somin tends to blame the general public for deficiencies in our political processes, he neglects the distorting roles of such elite-level factors as lies and misleading rhetoric from public officials, collusion between the major parties, and money run amok in our elections. Instead, he seeks solutions in such counterproductive measures as restricting the franchise, delegating decisions to unelected “experts,” and decentralizing and downsizing government.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-379
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Ilya Somin
  • collective deliberation
  • miracle of aggregation
  • political ignorance
  • voter ignorance
  • wisdom of crowds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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