People May Be Too Stupid For Democracy to Flourish



The democratic process relies on the assumption that the majority of citizens are capable of recognizing the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. However, a growing body of research seems to disprove this notion, implying that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by Cornell University Psychologist David Dunning, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of others and evaluate the quality of their ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools to make such meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, “very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is,” Dunning said in the full story at

It’s a thought-provoking idea for those who view the rise of reality television programs, surging cost of higher education, and spread of propaganda news networks like FOX as part of the dumbing down of America.