The larger problem would seem to be that when faced with complexity that requires significant domain knowledge, we humans will reliably opt for what seems simplest even if a moment’s thought would reveal that (i) it is impossible, and (ii) it will result in great self-harm. Representative democracy returns sub-optimal outcomes at all times not merely because of the problem of choice but because of the problem that we require competence from neither those we elect nor from those who get to vote. We use age as a proxy for capacity but that’s the least adequate proxy imaginable, and it is far from clear why we should use a proxy in any case. After all, we don’t look for proxies in any other realm of life; instead we expect demonstrations of competence. It’s extraordinary that we fail to do so for one of the most important and far-reaching aspects of modern life.


Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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