Saturday, November 7, 2009

Human Rationality and the Monopoly of Public Space

Found this post on nakedcapitalism, a guest post from Washington's blog about a recent study on why people aren't more rational, but, rather, are so prone to use faulty reasoning and emotion to reinforce false beliefs in spite of evidence that their beliefs are incorrect.  After reading, I had the following comment:

The idea that people are rational actors is a fiction that some of the classical and now neo-classical economists dreamed up to justify their models and theories. The enlightenment writers all struggled with the problem of wanting a more business friendly and, therefore, more democratic world but having such irrational human creatures populate it. Two central planks were proposed and built that were supposed to promote more rational thought among the masses, state-protected free speech rights in the public sphere and universal liberal arts education. Realizing either of these has been problematic since the late 18th century. Certainly in the US the state protects free speech but does nothing to control the monopoly of access to the public sphere where speech must be freest if people are to be able to weigh different opinions. The US state also has provided public education but it is nothing remotely close to a liberal education, much more indoctrination than anything else. Again, the US state allows a monopoly of the public sphere in education (either by state bureaucrats or corporations -- often a marriage of the two).