April 28, 2011

More on irrationality

Good discussion in the previous comment thread on how irrational most voters are and how little they know (both sides) about key issues, including Democrats who believed that Bush knew about 9-11 in advance and the rather shocking number (59%) of Obama voters who didn't realize in 2008 that the Democrats controlled the congress.

I kind of understand the first poll, since there was a bit of ambiguity about the information that Bush knew. We know that he was given some briefings about possible attacks, so there could be some who were unsure simply because they might have thought that the briefing about vague "using airplanes" to attack inside the US is the same thing as Bush knowing that it was all going to happen on that date.

The second part is stunning to me. But then again, I know who my reps are in Congress (and have pestered them on the phone and through the mail). But I know many have no clue who represents them in Congress.

So, I am certainly not surprised to see that left and right are prone to conspiracy theories and bad science. My nephew posted this from Mother Jones about why we often don't believe science, and more importantly, how often responding with factual evidence doesn't help.

Couple of points, and then I have to get going. First, I am again struck by the fact that while left and right have constituents prone to bad information, the right has been more interested in exploiting those beliefs. At least, to be fair, of late.

Second, and more personal, the discussion about how we filter information before we even rationally start to evaluate it makes me wonder about my own biases. How often do I pre-filter information or news that goes against my belief system. I want to believe, and hope to believe, that I am open to new information. That is party of my perpetual doubt or skepticism. But I am not always sure that I do that.

Anyway. SOF is at a conference. So I better get the animals taken care of before the revolution.


steves said...

To be fair, most of the 9-11ers were kooks. I didn't see any democratic candidates or party leaders jumping on that bandwagon. The same can't be said for the right. Fortunately, most seemed to distance themselves, but others, like Trump, weren't afraid to put forth dumb ideas. I do see Trump as more of a media whore than a politician.

Smitty said...

This week, today especially but really all week in the Michigan legislature has obliterated my faith in the democratic process. Sorta disgusted with it. Kinda wish I was fucking ignorant; it would be so much easier to turn a blind eye to the capitol and shrug.

But I can't. So I guess I'll just have to accept being eternally grumpy and having high blood pressure.

leighton said...

What do you Michigan folks think of the "economic martial law" bill, or whatever it's called? I've only seen sensationalist summaries that are light on details. Is it as bad as it sounds? Feel free to vent or swear or anything you like, but I am curious about how the specifics work.

Bob said...


A long time ago, Michigan took away many local taxes and instead the state collected sales taxes with the promise to return the money back to the locals. Instead, what is know as revenue sharing has been cut by $ billions in the last decade.

So now:

Step 1 Cut income, buisness taxes, etc.
Step 2 Take political advnatage of being a tax-cutter
Step 3 Cut revenue sharing to make up for lost revenue
Step 4 Claim cities are mismanaged and going bankrupt
Step 5 Pass emergency financial manager bill
Step 6 Declare a city in a fiscal emergency
Step 7 Take over city, fire manager, erase union contracts and claim the state can better run a city when in fact it was the state that ran it into the ground.

Bob said...


If you want more to read here is a paper on the bill package:


Streak said...

I think the weird thing about the Republican party is that they are very afraid of their base, even when their base is clearly off their rocker. Democrats are not nearly as concerned about their base, especially when they are off their rocker, but even when they are just pissed.

This may explain why the GOP seems to be going farther and farther right, in an attempt to appease the crazies who want no government (or whatever the hell they want), and why the Democrats are not as strong in standing up to them. The Dems respond only to the middle, and the conservative middle, while the Republicans only respond to the far right.

leighton said...

Thanks Bob, I was afraid it would be something like that. I'll check out the pdf later when I have some time.

Streak, maybe this is just me being paranoid, but I tend to think that the Democrats' base isn't nearly as dangerous as the Republicans' base. That might account for the right being more influential than the left. In a democracy, if you want your wishes made into policy, there are tactics that are more effective than being reasonable.

Streak said...

No, I agree. The right wing base seems far more dangerous to me, and that is why I am so puzzled why so many conservative politicians play to that base.