Whence and Why 'Irrationally Informed'?
Debunking the Myth of Sheeple

A favored meme among some students of politics, intelligentsia (pseudo and otherwise), and various conspiracists, is the idea that the majority of folks belong to a sub-group of humans (which almost always manages to successfully exclude the present company) who are easily misled. The theory often is that this tendency to be more easily misled is why the various unwashed masses have not come 'round to realizing the "painfully obvious" truths being averred by the particular proponents of the sheeple meme.

The meme necessarily implies a misleader of some sort- the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the politicians , the Reptilians, or the Mainstream Media. While it's true that there are any number of entities in the world who seek to mislead folks and it's true that there are, (almost by definition), folks who are more easily misled than others, the idea that most folks are inherently more gullible than the assorted multitudes of the sheeple meme proponents is bunkum. The sheer volume of sheeple proponents and the fact that many of these people who're pushing the idea of this underclass of humans are themselves laboring under misapprehensions acquired through being misled, rule out this possibility for most pragmatic intents and purposes.

Nor is it such that there must necessarily be a hidden force (or forces acting in occult collusion) to cause the wide spread dissemination of erroneous beliefs or to prevent the widespread acceptance of various truths.

What is often at work in cases where there appear to be large groups of people who are misled or mistaken in one fashion or another is not so much the existence of a sub-group of folks who are more easily misled than others so much as it is the result of busy people living in a complex world. A term that allows for some constructive understanding of the phenomena is ' rational ignorance'.

Many of us are just way too busy making a living, raising children, etc to spend enough time wading though voluminous NGO and governmental reports, spending bills, news accounts etc to "find the facts" or get to "the real story" in every instance. There's only so much time in a day and we have to spend at least some of that time performing the more mundane activities of human existence- eating sleeping, getting rid of food once it's been eaten, etc. In addition to these there're the requirements of work, family and social lives that impinge on our ability to absorb relevant information. Then, there's just the plain old wanting to. Many very informative items are just not that interesting. CSPAN is a case in point. Chock full of governmental goings on that have potential impacts on the lives of the electorate, yet it induces fits of yawning in many subjects.

Rational ignorance is the greatest single threat to democracies and republics everywhere.

Basically, it is much more advantageous for a select group to educate themselves, form a PAC and lobby a legislature or a governmental executive than it is for the average member of the electorate to oppose them. What this means in practical application is that as far as the X lobby is concerned, it's well worth their time and effort to spend hundreds or thousands of man hours and tens of thousands of dollars to lobby a legislature. To the X industry, their lobbying efforts have the potential to produce rewards well in excess of what was expended. However, to the average member of the electorate, the costs of taking the steps necessary to counter-act the X lobby's efforts far outweigh the costs of ignoring the X lobby's efforts.
Perhaps the X PAC's efforts enable an extra ten cents to the price of item X, maybe by putting a tariff on imported versions. A relatively small cost on the part of the average consumer. However, when that extra ten cents is accrued by the members of the X industry, the increase in profits may well outweigh what it took to acquire acquiescence from the governmental body that was lobbied.
In some cases, lobbyists even go so far as to write bills for legislators to submit to their legislatures.

These phenomena have impacts and implications that exceed merely additional expenses for US consumers. they effect all aspects of governmental policy from local zoning regulations to foreign policy. Committed and funded groups of foreign nationals and recent immigrants have played formative roles in US foreign policy.

Whatever the will of the American electorate as a whole is, was or would have been is rendered moot in these instances where the interests of a small group has been able to bring influence to bear at certain precisely chosen leverage points of the legislative and executive branches of our governments. For those who take to heart the idea that the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the electorate, this is a disturbing state of affairs.

Rational ignorance is what allows governments local and national enact policy and legislation that runs counter to the interests of the electorate as a whole. It fall upon those of us with either a taste or talent for it to undermine the rationality of ignorance where possible.

This is the foundation for the title of this humble blog, Irrationally Informed. The Irrationally Informed crew have endeavored to become informed to a degree that outstrips the relatively slim chance of accruing a benefit that will match or outweigh the expense of time, effort and money.

My friends, welcome to Irrationally Informed featuring Simon W. Moon.

24 Sep 2005 by Simon W. Moon