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The Politics of Biased Information

John W. Patty
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 71, No. 2 (Apr., 2009), pp. 385-397
DOI: 10.1017/s0022381609090343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1017/s0022381609090343
Page Count: 13
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The Politics of Biased Information
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Abstract

The effects of any important political decision are always to some degree uncertain. This uncertainty may be ameliorated by the collection of policy-relevant information. Predictably, if such information is biased, then political decisions based on that information will be biased as well. This paper explores the converse of this statement: if the policymaker is biased, will the information provided to him or her also be biased? It is shown in this paper that, in equilibrium, information provided to a sufficiently biased policymaker will inherit the policymaker's bias. Accordingly, the provision of biased policy-relevant information is not evidence of an attempt to produce biased policy decisions. The implications of the theory are examined within the context of modern administrative policymaking within the United States Federal Government.

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