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Meet Danny Oppenheimer | Democracy Despite Itself
3PM SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 Meet Danny Oppenheimer: Democracy Despite Itself
Danny Oppenheimer Credit: Princeton University
Cognitive psychologist Danny Oppenheimer, winner of the 2006 Ig Noble Prize in Literature, visits with Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System That Shouldn't Work at All Works So Well.
Voters often make irrational decisions; politicians are more often than not inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the peopsle; and elections can be determined by the design of the ballot and the gerrymandered borders of a district. And yet, despite all this, Oppenheimer asserts that democracy works exceptionally well: citizens of democracies are healthier, happier, and freer than citizens of other countries. In Democracy Despite Itself, he explores this paradox, drawing on cutting-edge research to suggest that democracy works because regular elections — no matter how flawed — produce a variety of unintuitive, positive consequences. The brilliance of democracy, he writes, does not lie in the people's ability to pick superior leaders — but in the many ways that it subtly encourages the flawed people and their flawed leaders to work toward building a better society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danny Oppenheimer is an Associate Professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the psychology department and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy. His research focuses on decision strategies and errors, and their implications in applied, real-world settings. His work has been featured by MSNBC, PBS, BBC Radio, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Economist, and others. More »