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Somin Observations on Political Ignorance Noted in Israeli News Article

Writer Avi Woolf of the Times of Israel draws on Professor Ilya Somin's writings on political ignorance in discussing the issue of religious ignorance among the Jewish.

Woolf writes "my experience tells me that a focused NJPS-style survey of Jews' knowledge of Jewish history and religion would reveal large if not enormous gaps in said knowledge, regardless of whether the Jews are Orthodox, secular or anything in between." Woolf follows up:

Why is this? Why is it that so many Jews know so little when it is possible to research a subject with a few google searches?

Some elitists would write this off as more proof of the stupidity of the masses, but this argument won’t hold. There are many people who are quite intelligent and often savants in their chosen fields who are nevertheless just as politically or religiously ignorant as your average Joe.

Professor Ilya Somin of George Mason University has a better answer: for most people, ignorance is often a rational decision rather than a sign of intellectual deficiency. Take politics – to properly learn even one issue on the political agenda requires a significant amount of time and effort. Given that the chances of any one citizen affecting policy through votes or other means is infinitesimal, it is simply not worth it for them to spend the time just to become a “better voter”.

Religious Ignorance and the Jews, Times of Israel, February 5, 2014. By Avi Woolf.

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