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Memo to California Voters: Don't Be Too Informed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Parkinson via National Weather Service Data

    Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
    Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
    Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
    Rick: I was misinformed.

    This is an election year, and we're heading into two election seasons. Before you know it, the June primaries in California will be upon us. And in November, we'll have federal and state elections.

    Over and over, you will hear from media, from politicians, from you mother that, whatever your politics, you need to get yourself informed. That seems like non-controversial advice that only makes sense.

    The problem? You can be too informed.

    Recent political science research on voter information is stunning because it doesn't conform to this conventional wisdom. Indeed, it is the most well-informed voters we should worry about the most, because the best-informed voters are also the most misinformed voters.

    Why? It makes sense. The more information you take in, the more bad information you take in. (Which is why, ahem, California voters should read Prop Zero, and only Prop Zero).

    At the same time, voters with little information often cast ballots in elections and make a hash of it.

    The best thing to be is moderately informed. You don't want to know too little, because you won't know what you're doing. And you don't want to know too much, because you'll know too much that's nonsense.

    There's a happy medium. So be informed. But don't overdo it.

    Send us your thoughts via Twitter @PropZero or add your comment to our Facebook page.