Bryan Caplan on the Myth of the Rational Voter


Listen to the EconTalk podcast Bryan Caplan on the Myth of the Rational Voter and consider these questions.

1. How do Roberts and Caplan describe the "typical public choice" story about politics? For what reason(s) does Caplan suggest that this "story" is wrong?

2. Roberts suggests that there is both "good news" and "bad news" about democracy. What does he mean? How does Caplan use the example of farm subsidies to reinforce Roberts' argument?

3. Caplan tells us that sheep appear on the cover of The Myth of the Rational Voter. Why did one of his colleagues suggest this image as too optimistic?

4. How does Caplan utilize evolutionary biology to help explain the origins of "anti-foreign bias"?

5. According to Caplan, what are the sources of anti-market bias?

6. Caplan uses an analogy from Bastiat to explain what he calls the "make-work bias". Is this an accurate analogy? Explain.

7. What is Caplan's "model of politics", and how does it differ from the traditional public choice explanation, as discussed in the beginning of the interview?

8. Roberts suggests that the public often confuses results and policies. What does he mean by this? To what extent do you find this suggestion reasonable?

9. How does Caplan apply the "free riding problem" to his model of voting?

10. What guidelines are offered for economists who wish to become better communicators? Is this good advice? If economists behaved according to this advice, how might it affect voting behavior?