The Paradox of the Over-Informed Electorate

Photo by Tang Zhi Shen on Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved

Information may be power. But too much information can make us feel powerless, too. 

Sensing an overload, our cerebral circuit breakers trip, defaulting to ideas that are easier for us to process. 

Political candidates get it. That’s why the presidential hopefuls work so hard to implant their own cardboard cut-out depictions of their competitors: 

— The food-stamp socialist who’s running the U.S. into the ground. 

— The rich, job-cutting businessman who doesn’t care about the poor. 

— The fat, pompous hypocrite who wants to build a moon colony. 

— The sweater-vested Bible Belter with an unGoogleable last name.

— The funny old kook who has zero chance of winning. 

I didn’t even need to include names with those descriptions. Your mind rapidly made the connections. 

As the presidential race heats up, don’t be surprised if this election becomes more about “whose values are most like mine” rather than “who is the best candidate to get us out of this mess.”

In complex times, voters seek simple truths—whether they’re actually true or not. Call it the paradox of the over-informed electorate.