Saturday, August 21, 2010

One in Five Americans . . .

Why does it surprise anyone that one in five Americans believe that President Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim? Polls after all, are supposed to sample opinion across America in a way that avoids concentration on any one age group, any one region, and any one level of intellect.

You wouldn’t, for instance, conduct a poll in only Southern states to gauge an opinion that was supposed to reflect a national trend.

You wouldn’t direct your phone calls exclusively to college towns.

You need to get a cross section.

And guess what, 1 in 5 Americans are dumber than a bag of hammers.

One in five Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim. The very same proportion of Americans also believe these things:

They believe that the Sun revolves around Earth. Sadly, Nicholas Copernicus pretty much debunked that about 467 years ago, but I guess it takes more time for news to spread.

They believe that humans have been contacted by visitors from other planets. I saw that movie, too.

They believe that torture is a legitimate method to gain intelligence from terrorists and other Muslims.

They believe that individual states have a right to secede from the Union. Our governor is among these, unfortunately. They believe this despite the fact that the South actually lost that argument 145 years ago. Again, news travels slowly sometimes.

But what you say you know, or say you don’t know isn’t all of it, is it? What you say, a friend tells me, is not as revealing as what they actually do. So this amazing proportion also do, or don’t do the following:

20% of Americans have admitted that they pee in swimming pools. Comforting thought, huh?

As discussed by Miss Teen South Carolina, 20% of Americans can’t find America on a map.

So really, in broad terms over the length and breadth of America every 5th person you meet does not have the knowledge or the skill set to do something that many of us feel is a citizen’s most sacred duty, and that is to vote in elections. And the hope is that because of their ignorance and lack of ability, they don’t do that. It was Thomas Jefferson, after all, that said this:

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Truer words were never spoken. But from what I read in this Boston Globe article, it is the hopelessly ignorant among us who have the strongest political convictions.
“On its own, this might not be a problem: People ignorant of the facts could simply choose not to vote. But instead, it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. (Most of these participants expressed views that suggested a strong antiwelfare bias.)”
Conclusion? When faced with interaction with conservative ignorance the last thing you want to do is shower someone in the truth. For heaven’s sake don’t introduce facts. Best just to talk about the weather.

But leave out the part about global chimate change.

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