Comments on: Danielle Allen on equality, education and the Declaration of Independence Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003 Thu, 31 May 2018 07:56:57 +0000 hourly 1 By: …My heart’s in Accra » Is civics in crisis? Or just changing its shape? Tue, 12 Feb 2013 22:51:51 +0000 […] an easy time teaching thick and effective civics through schools, particularly public high schools. My friend Danielle Allen gave a talk at Williams College late last year which explored a “civic empowerment gap”, the stark gap in political participation […]

By: quixote Sun, 21 Oct 2012 18:02:00 +0000 My initial reaction was also to think “do we really want more ignorant people, even young ones, participating”?

But then I thought about the recent research showing that more educated people tend to suffer more from confirmation bias than less educated. (E.g. here.) So intelligence, at the level of populations, won’t be much help.

And the “wisdom of crowds” research shows that large groups generally came up with better answers than individuals, so long as the people in the crowds had fairly equal information and were not influenced by others.

I think that last points to the real problem. It’s not ignorance, but directed ignorance. More voters is always better, including high schoolers and custodians, especially if we could put the brakes on manipulation.

By: Sevesteen Sun, 21 Oct 2012 02:35:08 +0000 When I was in high school, a civics teacher was running for office. One of the classroom extra-credit assignments was to volunteer for a campaign. It didn’t have to be for HIS campaign of course…but I don’t think anyone worked for any other campaign. Students were often pressured to help pass school levies. Both of these things are a conflict of interest. This sounds like the same sort of thing–teach kids the ‘right’ way to vote and get them registered and to the polls.

Getting registered is not hard, even without motor-voter type programs. We don’t need more politically ignorant or apathetic people voting, unless we want physical appearance and an easy to pronounce name to be key factors. This week a custodian asked me if I was voting, and for who. That lead to a conversation about libertarianism. She was entirely unable to grasp the concept, and appeared to be unclear on conservative and liberal

Pushing registration at the license bureau is at least somewhat neutral–but pushing it at government aid offices is clearly partisan. Why not push registration with tax forms?