无视无知者

斯坦福—人有无知的权利。正如我们可以选择用暴饮暴食、吸烟和对不服用处方药危害我们的健康,我们也可以选择对政策问题一无所知。

或许无知有时也有点作用。经济学家认为,当获得对某问题的充分理解以据此决策的成本过高,超过了这样做的合理预期好处时,就会产生“理性的无知”。比如,许多忙于家庭、学校、工作和按揭贷款的人不会认为研究一大堆通常互相矛盾的数据以理解(比如)核电、儿童玩具中的增塑剂和地中海饮食的利弊是值得的。

关于各种食物的成本和收益的互相冲突的数据汗牛充栋,这是做出充分信息决策的内在困难性的写照。在一份最新研究中,邵恩菲尔德(Jonathan Schoenfeld)和伊安尼蒂斯(John Ioannidis)发现,尽管有媒体的大力宣传,但各种食物引发或预防癌症的“科学”结论经常不能得到元分析(对多项研究的汇总结果的分析)的支持。伊安尼蒂斯说:“人们要么被吓坏了,要么认为他们应该改变生活和做出重大决策,然后,这些东西马上就被批驳了。”

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