Arnold Kling  

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Two from the Washington Post.

1. Kathleen Parker writes,

By large percentages, the sperm-donor children suffered more depression, delinquency and substance abuse than children who were adopted or raised in a home with their two natural parents.

See also Bruce Feiler. In general, the Post seems to want to reassure fathers that their contribution to bringing up children matters. Is that truly evidence-based?

2. Jonathan Capehart writes,

59 percent of Democratic primary voters chose Alvin Greene. He's the unemployed guy who somehow paid the $10,440 filing fee, who has been discharged from two branches of the military, and who faces felony obscenity charges. Greene's interviews, particularly those with The Post, Keith Olbermann and Time magazine fueled speculation that he is a Republican plant. But as we learned yesterday Greene is the beneficiary of electoral ennui and an alphabetically advantageous name.

That is on the editorial page, where casual voters are described as a problem for the Democrats. On the front page, casual voters are described as the solution for the Democrats. For little-d democracy, I think that the Greene story tells you everything you need to know about the Myth of the Rational Voter.

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Floccina writes:

I have not followed the case, but is there any chance that it was ethnic voting in SC primary? Maybe they knew the other candidate was white and black voters guessed from the name that "Alvin Greene" was likely black?

Ted writes:

The Alvin Greene story basically tells you noting about "irrational voters." In fact, it is quite likely it is a story of perfectly rational voters!

Think about it. Any democratic opponent has basically a negligible probability of defeating DeMint in the general election. Why would anyone invest any of their time learning about the primary candidates since it's irrelevant who is nominated? This is more likely a story of voter rationality - not irrationality. Voters did a cost-benefit analysis and realized that investing their time to learn about the candidates wasn't worth it since it didn't matter who was running against DeMint. Most just picked the first name because they didn't care - because it didn't matter. One could ask then why did they show up in the first place? My guess is that in all likelihood, many of the Democrats showed up to the primaries to vote for candidates in more local elections (e.g. governor, attorney general, house of representatives etc.) where they believe there was a more meaningful chance of winning.

Of course, maybe my story is wrong and voters are just idiots. But I think the rational voter story I just told is far more plausible since if voters were actually this dumb, you'd see these errors far more often.

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