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Canadians need to get their brains in high gear before going to ballot box

Canadians need to get their brains in high gear before going to ballot box
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Too Dumb For Democracy? Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones By David Moscrop Goose Lane Editions 265 pages; $22.95

Well, it’s election season. Again.

Too Dumb For Democracy? Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones, by David Moscrop, Goose Lane Editions, 265 pages, $22.95  (Goose Lane Editions)

The good news, is that Moscrop, a political scientist currently working as a post-doc at the University of Ottawa, thinks there’s hope for us yet — if we pay attention to neuroscience. The problem, as he sees it, is that our brains approach decision-making in one of two modes — the autopilot mode (quick, reflexive decisions we’re not even fully aware we’re making), and the long-form mode (autonomous thought and careful rational deliberation).

We need both modes to survive. If we didn’t have shortcuts for daily decision-making, we’d be paralyzed by constant deliberations over every move. Important decisions, like political ones, though, need to be made in the long-form mode, so we don’t elect people who will ignore climate change and the buildup of nuclear weapons. Sadly, though, it’s easy for nefarious political operatives to short-circuit our brains and trick us into slipping into low-gear — at the very moment when we should be revving up our thinking to make good decisions about our collective futures.
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