How much information is too much? Do we need to know how many calories are in the giant vat of popcorn that we bought on our way into the movie theater? Do we want to know if we are genetically predisposed to a certain disease? Can we do anything useful with next week's weather forecast for Paris if we are not in Paris?
In Too Much Information, Cass Sunstein examines the effects of information on our lives. Policymakers emphasize “the right to know,” but Sunstein takes a different perspective, arguing that the focus should be on human well-being and what information contributes to it. Government should require companies, employers, hospitals, and others to disclose information not because of a general “right to know” but when the information in question would significantly improve people's lives.
Sunstein argues that the information on warnings and mandatory labels is often confusing or irrelevant, yielding no benefit. He finds that people avoid information if they think it will make them sad (and seek information they think will make them happy). Our information avoidance and information seeking is notably heterogeneous—some of us do want to know the popcorn calorie count, others do not. Of course, says Sunstein, we are better off with stop signs, warnings on prescriptions drugs, and reminders about payment due dates. But sometimes less is more. What we need is more clarity about what information is actually doing or achieving.
Meet our speaker, discussant and chair
Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School.
Peter John is Head of the School of Politics and Economics and Professor of Public Policy at King's College London.
Susana Mourato is Pro-Director for Research at LSE, and Professor of Environmental Economics at Department of Geography and Environment, LSE.
The Department of Geography and Environment (@LSEGeography) is a centre of international academic excellence in economic, urban and development geography, environmental social science and climate change.
The Department of Psychological & Behavioural Science (@LSE_PBS) is a growing community of researchers, intellectuals, and students who investigate the human mind and behaviour in a societal context.
Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSESunstein
From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend that if you plan to attend this event you check back on this listing on the day of the event.
Whilst we are hosting this listing, LSE Events does not take responsibility for the running and administration of this event. While we take responsible measures to ensure that accurate information is given here this event is ultimately the responsibility of the organisation presenting the event.