January 11, 2013

American Politics in the Age of Ignorance

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Hamline University professor David Schultz, noted expert on elections, politics, and public policy, has released his latest book. In American Politics in the Age of Ignorance: Why Lawmakers Choose Belief Over Evidence, Schultz explains why he believes elected officials are frequently captured by political myths and enact laws that are known to fail. 

"There is a pack mentality among legislators who often turn to trendy and untested ideas and the need for quick fixes,” Schultz said. “The power of money in politics, partisanship, special interest pressures, and sometimes simply ideology or even blindness to the facts all contribute to situations where so-called new ideas are really recycled old ones already proven to have failed."

In American Politics in the Age of Ignorance, Schultz speaks to a knowledge gap. He argues that social science, scientific research, experimentation, past successes, and government failures provide significant evidence regarding what works and what doesn’t, yet public officials often ignore this information.

In addition to explaining why policy makers often ignore good research, American Politics in the Age of Ignorance also documents a dozen of the most frequent failed policies and political myths that are repeatedly repackaged and enacted. Among the myths and failed policies examined are: the role of taxes in economic develop, public subsidies for sports stadiums, illegal immigration, voter fraud, and abstinence-only sex education. The book can be found at Amazon.com, though the publisher, and other bookstores.

Schultz is a professor of public administration and government ethics at Hamline University School of Business. He has taught classes on American government and election law for more than 25 years. Schultz is the author and editor of 25 books and 90 articles on American politics and law and is a frequently quoted political analyst in the local, national, and international media. Schultz drew on these experiences, plus him time working in government and on political campaigns, to write American Politics in the Age of Ignorance.