Your audiobook is waiting…

The Myth of the Rational Voter

Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
Narrated by: David Drummond
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (178 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book.

Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand. Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better - for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and reccomending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.

The Myth of the Rational Voter takes an unflinching look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.

This book is published by Princeton University Press.

©2007 Princeton University Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"The best political book this year." ( The New York Times)
"Caplan thinks that democracy as it is now practiced cannot be salvaged, and his position is based on a simple observation: 'Democracy is a commons, not a market.'" ( The New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    98
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    86
  • 4 Stars
    33
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    4
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Refreshing

Good book by an author who's willing to depart from conventional wisdom. While democracy is spoken of virtually everywhere else as the only possible governance model for an enlightened nation, Mr. Caplan makes a good argument that democracy as we know it has some very serious flaws.

If you like books by economists, as I do, then you'll like this one. He starts by asking a question that most people would never dare ask, then he logically pursues an answer by examining the incentives created for voters and politicians under a democratic system, how people respond to them and where that leads.

Narrator does a fine job, in my opinion.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting

Overall the content of the book was interesting and the author does a good job of making his argument. The book is somewhat hindered by being in audio format.

* Even with the headers between sections, it can be hard to tell where they are. It would help it the reader had paused briefly for them.
* The author likes to do lots of block quotes surrounded by prose. Given he is typically quoting contemporary writers, it can be hard to tell when the quote starts. This is a problem audible has in general.

With those complaints in mind, the book is still quite interesting and thought provoking. I still recommend listening to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Often Marginalizes Individual Beliefs

Among other distasteful things in this book, the author clearly subsumes that democracy is embodied in the U.S. constitution. In reality, the word democracy is nowhere found in the constitution! Having said this, Mr. Caplan would no doubt call me a "fundamentalist"; this was a chacterazation that he often used in this book.

I am convinced that Mr. Caplan is an atheist with a distinctive Darwinian humanist world view, and he makes every effort to dispense with the voting public who may have religious beliefs. Beliefs which actually affect their lives - not just their voting decisions. His references to such people are typified with the term "irrational" or "irrational rationality" (if they happen to per chance, vote the "right way").

Instead of revealing the underlying cause for democracy's inherent weaknesses, Mr. Caplan chooses instead to highlight examples of specific voter illogic. In fairness, some of the examples he uses are both interesting and humorous. He nevertheless unfailingly believes that its not the institution of democracy, but the voters who are defective. I am reminded of what Benjamin Franklin said to a woman who asked him what they (those at the Philadelphia convention) had "wrought". He said, a "republic if you can keep it". I will simply say; there is a huge difference between a Democracy and a Republic!

Additionally, David Drummond (if I didn't know otherwise) sounded as if he was the author. If only all audiobooks could be read that way!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

excellent topic. insightful and relevent

this book brilliantly explains through economic terms why voting and voters only believe themselves to be moral and correct

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended

Goes deep into complex subject matter while making sure you understand every word, just lovely.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very relevant

In the wake of political controversy with the election of an incompetent president, Caplan gives us sound explanation for this event. It is truly incredible how Caplan reasoned his way to a conclusion of voter irrationality that now has a 1 for 1 case study in politics biggest stage.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent read

I'm not a libertarian, but loved the book. Gives a welcoming new perspective on democracy, especially if you always questioned yourself about its true efficacy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

well written, good information

great for fellow economic and political nerds! very informative.
this book fixed my own irrational beliefs on economics and voting.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • K
  • 06-08-14

Idea import, but too long

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This book was way longer than it needed to be to prove its point. I feel like 50 pages might have been more appropriate.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The voice wasn't interesting or engaging. It was great to listen to while trying to fall asleep; you could fall asleep in 5 minutes. However it was really bad at keeping your attention (though that might have just been the overly repetitive nature of the book, but I feel like it's a combination of the two).

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

If it were an hour long documentary, I think it would be valuable.

Any additional comments?

Good premise

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a small shade on failure of democracy

this book put you in a place with the prove of the big failure of democracy. it just dose not work . and if u are wandering how big country pass it legislation and have kinda stable system ? guess what , it because political just buy u words and dont actually do it (lips serves ),of course there is more details about that in the book . anyway the book is lighting . however the author is very materialistic and i hate that so much it just annoyed me i cant believe a man can be that materialise

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nicolas Karonis
  • Nicolas Karonis
  • 01-03-17

Rational acknowledgment of prevailing irrationalit

essential reading for anyone interested in the flaws of the Democratic process and how it affects economic policies.
Very efficiently debunks accepted common sense wisdom.