When it comes to choosing a leader, we may simply be victims of our own ignorance. Researchers say that voters can't be trusted to choose experts on topics they themselves know little about—meaning, for instance, that we can't pick the candidate with the best tax policy without having a thorough grounding in the field first, says website Life's Little Mysteries. The result: We end up choosing mediocre leadership.
"Very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don't have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is," says the Cornell psychologist in charge of the research. Trouble is, we don't realize we're unsophisticated. Instead, people consistently call themselves "above average" at tasks, even when they're among the poorest performers. "To the extent that you are incompetent, you are a worse judge of incompetence in other people," the researcher adds. (Read more democracy stories.)