But the rewards that we can actually influence are more likely to be the ones that come from our immediate social circles than from influencing the actual things in and of themselves. For things like the topics of this thread, the probability of anyone of us being able to effect a change in the conduct of interrogations by our various national security apparati is virtually nil. Further, the various costs of acquiring information are not nil. It's more "economical" to adopt an opinion which grants some reward that we can influence. And acquiring that reward can be had by adherence to or revolting against the norms of whatever social circle we have found ourselves in. This is not to say that all of our decisions are thus, but rather that we have this tendency. Political parties offer a way of branding issues that allow people to arrive at conclusions w/o having to pay the costs of acquiring information or having to think about things that hard. Again not saying that everyone does this all the time, but just that it is a human tendency.
Originally Posted by MKULTRABOY
Present company excluded of course.
Beliefs about politics and religion often have three puzzling properties: systematic bias, high certainty, and little informational basis. The theory of rational ignorance (Downs 1957) explains only the low level of information. The current paper presents a general model of “rational irrationality,” which explains all three stylized facts. According to the theory of rational irrationality, being irrational - in the sense of deviating from rational expectations - is a good like any other; the lower the private cost, the more agents buy. A peculiar feature of beliefs about politics, religion, etc. is that the private repercussions of error are virtually nonexistent, setting the private cost of irrationality at zero; it is therefore in these areas that irrational views are most apparent. The consumption of irrationality can be optimal, but it will usually not be when the private and the social cost of irrationality differ – for example, in elections.