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Old 10-16-2008, 10:35 PM   #1
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Are voters dumb or well informed?

The Irrational Electorate

Are voters dumb or well informed?
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:47 AM   #2
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A bit o' both I'm afraid.
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Old 10-17-2008, 06:21 AM   #3
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If my guy wins they are well informed; if not they are stupid.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:06 AM   #4
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I think that on the most part, they're neither. It is easy to say that most voters aren't well-informed, but I do think there's a bit of truth in that assessment. I'd argue that most people have not gone onto the candidates' websites and read their plans at length. And while many people may pay attention to the more hardcore political pundit shows on tv, many more people probably get their national political news from the short soundbites on their local news.

So, I don't think that it's necessarily that people are dumb, but instead that they take the buzzwords and buzznotions that they know and run with them.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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I agree with Utoo in that most voters are not well-informed tho they would likely consider themselves well informed. Those who are directly affected by the issues (those who have actually pised away savings, 401k money, lost their homes, lost their jobs, are without healthcare, have had abortions, fight to put food on their tables, who can't afford child care or college educations for their children, etc) are the ones who I believe are most well informed since they are more vested in what's at stake. Sure, the economy being in a shithole affects everyone and too many people have lost investment money in the waning stockmarket, but I think most "average Joe" people don't spend enough time really getting into the Pros and Cons of how each vote on each decision or candidate could directly affect them or our contry and its future.

Is it just me or does it feel like this Presidential race has been going on for YEARS? I am ready for it to be over so whoever wins the race can clean house and get us all back on track again.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:43 AM   #6
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The answer is dumb, but the non-voting public is probably dumber, albeit with a bimodal distribution between the ignorantly apathetic and those that suffer the pangs of being aware.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:47 AM   #7
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:44 AM   #8
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I think it is a bit of both. Where do we get our info? With the exception of Fox News, most or media leans to the left. From the more moderate left side of CNN to way left tingly legged Chris Matthews and MSNBC, there is some degree of liberal bias. If you get your "facts" from them and believe it, then you are an informed yet mindless sheep of a voter. Same can be said of those on the right who only get their info from Rush or Hannity. Being on TV or the radio does not ensure honesty. There is bias everywhere. Then again, if your personal beliefs align with Rush or Al Franken, I can see why one would buy in without seeking out more info.

The other big source is from the candidates themselves in debates and clips of their stump speech. I'm not sure how many voters are seeking out sites like Fact Check to get the truth. For example, Obama's 95% tax cuts and the McCain accusation of Obama voting to tax people making $42,500, Fact Check said is actually 81% who get a tax break and that he DID in fact vote for taxing individuals making $42,000 per year.
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:46 AM   #9
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If they were informed we wouldn't need talking heads. We wouldn't have ridiculous labels being thrown around like: nazi, socialist, terrorist, Muslim, liberal media etc... If voters were informed we wouldn't have Britney/ Paris commercials, or Rush commercials.

For the most part... voters may not be dumb, but they are incredibly uninformed.
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEdge U2JT View Post
I'm not sure how many voters are seeking out sites like Fact Check to get the truth. For example, Obama's 95% tax cuts and the McCain accusation of Obama voting to tax people making $42,500, Fact Check said is actually 81% who get a tax break and that he DID in fact vote for taxing individuals making $42,000 per year.


Interesting that you've apparently overlooked FactCheck.org's long list of McCain's mistruths and falsehoods.
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:58 AM   #11
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Interesting that you've apparently overlooked FactCheck.org's long list of McCain's mistruths and falsehoods.
That would be the liberal media side. Fox has that part blocked.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Utoo View Post
Interesting that you've apparently overlooked FactCheck.org's long list of McCain's mistruths and falsehoods.
Sure, but I also made the point about people who get their info from Rush or Hannity. I think I was being fair.

However, somehow I am not surprised by your response. Miss the point and nit pick an example. Well done!
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Old 10-17-2008, 03:49 PM   #13
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For people to see what's missing from TV media or radio they should look to books and actually follow what politicians and economists are looking at and do a comparison. I did that and read lots about Marx, Keynes, and Hayek and you get a good picture. It's also good to go to a general political science book that tries to flesh out opinions on as many social causes as possible. When you do this you get to see the political rainbow and it's easier to pick a side you feel more agreement towards.

When you watch news later you can see what is left out and you won't get swayed too easily based on just soundbites. You can even see in a lot of reports where interviews are edited to change context. While you are reading a book it is a less emotional medium, therefore harder to fool people. You can see bias more easily in a book than news and it's less convincing because the emotion is reduced. Reading is not as passive an exercise as watching FoxNews or CNN. Those are emotional mediums.

For example: If a protestor throws a rock at a cop and that cop retaliates with blows how would it look if the editor eliminated the protestor throwing a rock first? It creates an emotional charge that causes you to feel sympathy to the protestor yet an unedited video would do otherwise.

By reading books of different points of view it gets you to look at the problems humanity has faced and sees the different angles and results of those choices to try and solve the problems. These solutions usually leave other questions unanswered so the reader can get a sense of what we still don't know and what has been tried and failed.

I recommend staying away from a lot of the new books that go out of date quickly and are based on pundits. This includes some conservative books. (O'Reilly is a horrible writer). Al Franken what a waste of time!

Intro political science book. Anyone going to university and has an option to take an intro course it wouldn't hurt.

Amazon.com: Political Science: An Introduction: Michael G. Roskin, Robert L. Cord, James A. Medeiros, Walter S. Jones: Books

This is not a bad place to start, in order to get informed on economics. Look at the bibliography of written works to get more detail:

Adam Smith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karl Marx - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frédéric Bastiat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Ricardo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carl Menger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Maynard Keynes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Kenneth Galbraith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friedrich Hayek - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milton Friedman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Laffer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That covers a lot of the major economists. Henry Hazlitt is an updated version of Bastiat that wrote some clear written books the average person can understand. When you learn more you can watch TV media and it really looks like it misses a lot.

I still want to read more on Montesquieu and his ideas of cyclical rise and fall of civilizations:

The Spirit of the Laws - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Persian Letters - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This would be interesting as well:

Edmund Burke

Reflections on the Revolution in France - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Does anybody else have books they think would help people to get informed on politics and economics?
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
While you are reading a book it is a less emotional medium, therefore harder to fool people. You can see bias more easily in a book than news and it's less convincing because the emotion is reduced. Reading is not as passive an exercise as watching FoxNews or CNN. Those are emotional mediums.

For example: If a protestor throws a rock at a cop and that cop retaliates with blows how would it look if the editor eliminated the protestor throwing a rock first? It creates an emotional charge that causes you to feel sympathy to the protestor yet an unedited video would do otherwise.
I don't agree with this premise. Books can be just as emotional, edited, biased, etc as video.

I agree you have to look at all sides of the story, and you have to realize there's always more than just two sides of the story as well. Once you allow yourself to look at as many sides as possible, bias and agenda are real easy to spot in video, book, newspaper, etc...
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:29 PM   #15
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I don't agree with this premise. Books can be just as emotional, edited, biased, etc as video.

I agree you have to look at all sides of the story, and you have to realize there's always more than just two sides of the story as well. Once you allow yourself to look at as many sides as possible, bias and agenda are real easy to spot in video, book, newspaper, etc...
Hey! We actually agree on something! Whoo whooo!
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