A month before the Brexit vote, the Ipsos Mori polling firm discovered that the British public was systematically misinformed. For instance, Leave voters believed that EU immigrants comprise 20 per cent of the UK’s population. Remain voters estimated 10 per cent. The truth is about 5 per cent. Both Leave and Remain voters vastly overestimated what percent of the UK child benefit goes to children living in Europe. Both vastly underestimated how much foreign investment comes from the EU, and overestimated how much comes from China.
Brexit voters were misinformed about the basic facts, though Remainers on average were less wrong than Leavers. Yet even knowing these basic facts would not suffice to make voters well informed. To cast a smart vote, a citizen would need significant social scientific knowledge. They would need to know about the economics and sociology of trade and immigration, the politics of centralised regulation, and the history of nationalist movements. But there is no reason to presume even a tenth of the UK’s population has a basic grasp of the social science needed to evaluate Brexit.
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