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Simplistic Rhetoric and Poe’s Law

Giovanni Andreottola () and Elia Sartori ()
Additional contact information
Giovanni Andreottola: Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) and CSEF, https://www.csef.it/giovanni-andreottola/
Elia Sartori: CSEF, https://csef.it/people/elia-sartori/

CSEF Working Papers from Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy

Abstract: We study the use of simplistic arguments in political communication, developing a novel model of mobilization through rhetoric with naive and sophisticated voters. We show that politicians sometimes choose simplistic arguments in order to appear more competent, exploiting what we call Poe’s Law, that is, the uncertainty on whether the argument used by the politician reflects her own competence or is ‘degraded’ to meet the demand for simplistic arguments of the naive electorate. We compare the Bayes Nash game with a game in which sophisticated voters are unable to conceptualize Poe’s Law, dismissing their peers’ cognitive abilities and identifying with a leader that speaks to a fully naive crowd. The two games have opposed predictions on how expected simplism departs from its demand-driven benchmark, as well as on the interpretation of extreme arguments. Our results demonstrate that dismissal is a valid rationalization of an overly simplistic political debate.

Keywords: Simplistic rhetoric; Dismissal; Poe’s Law; Populism. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D82 D83 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-02-17
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-gth, nep-mic, nep-neu and nep-pol
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