Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remember that thing about framing?

Fox News headline this morning: "Obama's Debt Reduction Plan: TAX HIKES". (Caps theirs.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nathan Answers Questions: What About Manipulation?

Over on Facebook, reader Jonathan Wang asks,

"…how about cases where politicians or interest groups deliberately misrepresent the facts?"

It's a good question with a number of facets. Three issues come to mind immediately: framing, media priming, and the many ways in which people either ignore or fail to use new information that could correct false beliefs.

Here's a quick overview, with some examples. Well, we'll see about quick, but there will be examples.

Friday, June 17, 2011

People Are Ignorant. Big Deal...Right?

In my previous three posts, I wrote about the fact that people generally don't know much about politics, though there is variance, and I wrote about why people know what they know. Basically, learning about politics takes effort, so people only know the things that are the easiest to learn about, which isn't much.

Okay, so people don't know much about politics, and we have some idea why. Today and next time, I'll look at whether it actually matters. In particular, I'll look at whether individuals and societies can make good decisions in spite of their ignorance. Roughly, there are three arguments:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why People Know What They Know About Politics

In my two previous posts, I looked at what people know about politics, and I looked a bit at who knows what about politics. The general theme is that people don't know very much overall, but there's variation—people know more about some things than others, and some people know more than others.

Today, I want to look at why people know what they know, and fortunately we've already seen some hints at the explanation. For example, we've seen that more people know about high-profile issues than about others. Putting that together with everything else we've seen so far suggests a fairly simple explanation for why people don't know that much about politics: it's actually kind of hard to follow, and most people have better things—or at least more pleasant things—to do than think about the awful state of the economy or whether gay people should be allowed to marry each other.

Monday, June 6, 2011

One other thing about what people know…

One of the things I didn't mention last time is that people tend to forget the issues and the politicians of yesterday, and that at least partially accounts for Americans' lack of political knowledge. Apropos, former Senator Rick Santorum, who lost his seat in a 17 point loss in 2006 — which, I should point out, is an unusual loss and an unusually huge landslide — is running for President.

Santorum used to be a Republican superstar. Today, according to Pew, fewer than half of Republican-leaning voters even know who he is.

You can read about Santorum's announcement here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Look at What People Know About Politics, Part 2: What We Know and Who Knows It.

Last time, I wrote about what Americans and others know about politics. Before I get to discussing why people don't know much about politics—and whether it even matters—let's take a closer look at how much people know, whether it's changed over time, and who knows what. I'll also look a bit at whether the measures of political knowledge people use are actually that useful.