04 August 2007

Tools for an informed democracy

Commenting on democracy's flaws, Nicholas Kristof, writing in Tuesday's International Herald Tribune, says:

[W]e should be able to respond to evidence of democracy's failings with something more than Churchillian resgnation. So why not address the problem in [the US] education system, by teaching basic economics and statistics in high schools? Students usually now encounter statistics, if at all, in college. But simple statistics could easily be taught along with algebra in high school. Likewise, principles of economics could be taught in social studies classes.
Mr Kristof makes a strong case. With the current and widening gap between ordinary people and their supposed representatives, more, and more informed, public participation in policymaking would be an end in itself, as well as means towards the worthwhile end of better outcomes for average citizens, rather than corporations and government agencies. That it's easy to fool people with no statistics can be seen (if you have broadband) in this fascinating talk by Peter Donnelly.

1 comment:

Harald Korneliussen said...

I started reading some public choice literature today ("Collective decsions and voting" by Nicolaus Tideman), inspired by what I've read about voting systems.

We always talk about statistics, but I think it's even more worrying that people don't see the problems with getting accturate information out of an election.