Rational ignorance

Authored by: Ilya Somin

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415718967
eBook ISBN: 9781315867762
Adobe ISBN: 9781317964674

10.4324/9781315867762.ch29

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Abstract

The idea that ignorance can be rational may at first seem paradoxical. How can it ever be rational to avoid acquiring knowledge? In reality, however, rational ignorance is a ubiquitous aspect of our lives. Because there are severe constraints on our time, energy, and cognitive capacity, it often makes sense to devote our limited resources to activities other than acquiring additional information. Much of the time, such rational ignorance is actually beneficial. But there are situations where individual rationally decisions to forego acquiring knowledge can lead to harmful collective outcomes.

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