Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance through Technology

By John O. McGinnis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Bias and Democracy

SOCIAL KNOWLEDGE IMPROVES collective decision making only if new information changes minds. But internal bias presents an important obstacle to updating on the basis of external evidence of the world. Indeed, some political scientists and psychologists believe bias is so pervasive that little if any updating takes place in politics. If bias prevents more information from modifying electoral outcomes, better deployment of information technology and better information-eliciting rules will not help solve problems of governance.

A host of biases infect political decision making. Nevertheless, even now these pervasive biases do not present an insuperable obstacle to democratic updating. The fundamental building blocks of a modern democratic system, from voting rules to the nature of representation, constrain bias by economizing on the number of people who need to update and by providing incentives to key players to temper their biases.


The Nature of Bias

Bias represents a departure from rational updating on the evidence. People are biased in their daily lives even apart from politics, and psychologists have cataloged these biases in a systematic way. But whatever the departures from rational updating in daily life, it would be extravagant to deny that updating routinely takes place. It is an axiom of cognitive science that people often change their minds in the face of new information,1 even if biases and cognitive limitations make such updating imperfect. Experiments suggest that individual decisions are often better when there is better access to information and facts.2

Evolution offers the most powerful proof that innate biases are not so substantial that they preclude updating. If humans did not rationally act on evidence, they would be less likely to make it to reproductive age.3 Failing to update would make it likelier that one would miss the opportunity to trap an animal for one’s meal or avoid the predator behind a tree.

-121-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance through Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 214

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.