Phew? We’re Not Stupid; We’re Misinformed

December 17th, 2010 | 5 comments | Posted by Diana

If you’re anything like us, you find yourself more and more often shaking your head in despair at the state of this nation’s population, because it’s starting to feel like everybody is just really, REALLY STUPID. Like, you can’t even relax, you can’t hope for things to start making sense, you cannot escape a deep and lingering sense of agita because, by golly, it really seems like most Americans are not playing with a full deck of cards.

A great deal of the people, at least:

What, us worry?

Then, no doubt, you are disturbed by the results of the new World Public Opinion study taken after November’s U.S. midterm elections, which were released this week and reflected an alarming state of confusion in voters on the country’s most pivotal issues. [FYI, the study included 616 self-reported voters that were chosen scientifically to represent the U.S. population, with a margin of error plus or minus 3.9%]

45% percent of voters thought that most scientists believe climate change is not occurring, despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that it is. 40% of voters incorrectly believed that the TARP legislation was initiated under Obama, not Dubya. 53% of voters said that most economists have concluded that Obamacare will increase the budget deficit, despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that law would actually reduce the deficit.

And what about the Republican voters who made such a big bang during those fateful midterms? 64% didn’t think it clear that Obama was born in the United States and 72% were convinced the economy is still getting worse (even though the Department of Commerce says otherwise, with June ’09 marking the official end to the recession). But before you lefties get smug, know that Dems aren’t off the hook: 18% weren’t sure about Obama’s birthplace either, 51% didn’t believe Obama has increased the number of troops in Afghanistan, and 57% were sure that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce funnels tons of foreign money to support Red candidates.

HOLY SHIT. We’re trying to hold our politicians accountable for the hot mess that is our nation? Nobody seems to know what the eff is actually going on in this country, but we’re all shouting from the rooftops that we need things to get done–and done RIGHT. Sadly, though, we clearly can’t tell right from left or wrong.

We’re aiming blindfolded here, guys. Oy.

So where is all of this bad information coming from? We’re an increasingly media-savvy audience… or maybe we aren’t.

from the WPO site:

In most cases those who had greater levels of exposure to news sources had lower levels of misinformation. There were, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source increased misinformation on some issues.

More specifically:

Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points). The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it–though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.

Oh what a shocker–FOX News actually has a quantifiable destructive effect on American ignorance, and nobody, but nobody, is safe. Thank you, Rupert Murdoch. And thank you all other American news organizations for giving us little to no real journalism from which we can glean factual, unbiased, necessary information.

Sigh. I miss Walter Cronkite.

But here we are, now with the understanding that the American people aren’t necessarily as dumb as we thought–just misinformed!

So why am I still shaking my head?

Read the full report, Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the US Electorate, here.

[WPO: Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information]


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5 Responses to “Phew? We’re Not Stupid; We’re Misinformed”

  1. farleyk says:

    Is that Glenny-boy’s personal spelling of “oligarch”? I guess he couldn’t fabricate a wacky theory that started with a “C”. Perhaps it happened on National Talk Like a Pirate Day?

    *I* know some words that start with “C”, and they could be applied to him…

  2. Diana says:

    OMG Ken, have you not seen the Glenn Beck “Oligarhy” video? Here’s the link:

    The whole time, you’re convinced he’s joking. He is NOT.

  3. Apryl says:

    This is why I use The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Disgrasian as my vital news sources! ;)

    They are more truly informative than Glenn Beck – and ther’s less crying! (Is he a big crybaby or what?!)

  4. farleyk says:

    Yikes. No, I hadn’t seen that. Watching this guy makes me a bit anxious and induces vulgarity.

    I think I’d like a “Glenn Fears the Oligarhy” T-shirt, though.

  5. Hello Kitty says:

    Hey I have proof the economy still stinks–Glenn Beck’s New Canaan, CT house is still on the market, been there since September 2009. That’s proof enough for Beck supporters, right?

    BTW my son calls him “Phlegm Speck”.

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