The Solid Information Factor
Angry Bears are, I’m sure, familiar with the 27 % crazification factor. . Although a joke, it does pop up rather often in opinion polls.
I think there might be another constant — I am tempted to call it the sanity factor or sanification factor. It is the fraction of the general public which accepts a uncontestable fact which contradicts general prejudice.
For example, what fraction of US adults correctly answered “decreased …” when asked
CBS News/New York Times Poll, Sep, 2010
So far, do you think the Obama administration has increased taxes for most Americans, decreased taxes for most Americans, or have they kept taxes the same for most Americans?
This is a statement about the Federal tax code and how it had changed between January 20 2009 and September 2010 . It is not contestable.
Another uncontestable fact is that CBO estimates of the cost of the Affordable care act have been reduced since it was signed into law. What fraction of US adults know this ?
The answer is 8% .
ARRA tax cuts (search for “taxes” between 8/15/2010 and 10/1/2010 )
While looking for the ARRA tax cut link I found
Respondents were asked their impression of what
“most economists who have studied it estimate”
about the economic impact of the stimulus. Only
8% thought that most economists estimate it has
saved or created several million jobs. Eighty-eight
percent thought that most economists estimated it
has only saved or created a few jobs (68%) or
even caused job losses (20%).
The problem we have is that, even if only 27% of us are crazy, only 8% of us are paying attention.
I really really like your sense of humor Robert.
I’m curious to ask, what is it that would have ever given you the impression that more than even 10% of the general public pay attention to the facts of an issue or are even capable of differentiating fact from Fox, or facts from their own time worn, but true to form, prejudices?
Did you hear Ted Cruz speak before the Senate just prior to the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch? What part of what he said, and keep in mind he was addressing the Senate of the U.S., came even a hair’s breath close to facts related to the confirmation? If a Senator can lie through his teeth on the floor of the Senate why should the public not regard his deception as fact?
Yes, Robert, and most people think the federal budget deficit has skyrocketed since Obama’s first inauguration. And most people think …. On and on and on.
But, no, it’s not really that most people aren’t paying attention. It’s that we have a president who, for more than six years now, hasn’t troubled himself to disabuse the public of the incredibly damaging false beliefs. And that last year, during the campaign season, we had a slew of Senate candidates who thought it was a good idea to run on culture-wars issues, and a bad idea to refute the false beliefs that hand elections to the Tea Party.
I think this finally will change in the upcoming election cycle. Clinton talks almost entirely in one-or-two-sentence soundbites, and I’m not sure she’s capable of actually explaining anything or correcting misapprehensions of fact by actually detailing the facts themselves. But outside groups probably will pick up the slack this time, because most progressives understand, finally, how devastating it’s been that huge swaths of the public believe tremendously important things that are directly contrary to fact.
i don’t think i am crazy, but i don’t pay a lot of attention to meaningless statistics.
i am sure i just saw a graph that showed taxes increased recently on the rich. maybe i am wrong. maybe the graph was wrong.
maybe you are looking only at taxes on “the average”…
are there details here that would clarify the picture?
meanwhile, to save time just in case you are right…. i have no doubt that the politicians and the press work very hard to keep the public misinformed. which is why it is not crazy of the public to ignore the “news” and just read the sports.
And here I thought this tongue in cheek!
oh, i see…. “most” Americans.
i can’t imagine why you think people would know who “most” Americans are. do you believe most americans should read the tax code to find things that “contradict general prejudice”?
frankly, i would call that a bizarre belief. heck, i might even call it “insane.”
as usual, right.
we have become a country…. perhaps always have been… where the lie is the standard of political and commercial behavior.
my sense of humor has been rubbed a little raw lately.
@Coberly I will respond taking your comments literally and ignoring the “sense of humor” hint.
yes Obama has signed bills increasing taxes (including the health care reform). Also the stimulus tax cuts have expired. However, the question was asked in 2010 at a time when over 95% of families including a worker were paying less than they would have if Obama had signed no bills into law.
They don’t have to read the tax code. It would have been enough for them to read their paystubs and, maybe, divide the number labeled FICA their net pay.
The post didn’t say anything about what I think people “should” do. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to not spend their time following public policy.
the “sense of humor” bit was in reply to Dan saying it was all “tongue in cheek.” I thought I had missed the joke. Dan inserted his comment mid thread, where many people would miss it.
Beyond that I seem to be stepping on everybody’s thin skin here, so I am afraid to say anything, funny or not. And since I can’t tell what your point was, I’ll just leave it there.
no such luck. here is what throws me:
“accepts uncontestable fact which contradicts popular prejudice”
almost by definition the number of people who contradict popular prejudice is going to be low.
the fact is uncontestable because … “it is about the tax code” and about “most” people.
yet you say they could find the answer just by reading their pay stub.
which is not the tax code. nor is their stub “most” people.
I missed the “2010” delimiter. I once had a physics professor who stuck an obscure fact in the middle of test problems that completely destroyed anyone who answered the problem on the basis of the “obvious” relevant factors. so i guess i need to watch out for trick questions in the future.
ditto about “didn’t say what people should do.” just that they failed you sanification test. just like me.
I suspect that for most people, both these questions are effectively background noise, even though they’re related to their lives.
ACA has impacted, positively, millions of people, but it also didn’t impact multiple times that many people in any measurable way. For most people, the ACA is symbolic at best because they’ve always had health insurance (when they’ve had it) through an employer, and they’ve never been declined enrollment. The other significant impacts of the legislation are less obvious to them.
As much as people like to think otherwise, I rather suspect that for at least 75% of people, tax policy really doesn’t make much impact on their day to day life. A hundred dollars a year more or less in disposable income is a measurable number, and most people would rather have it than not have it, but on a paystub that comes down to a couple dollars, a number outside of normal pay variability for most workers (hourly workers often have variable quantity of pay, and salaried workers are often paid biweekly, resulting in periods when pay is different due to employee share of insurance premiums).
That means that they’re really talking points and sacred cows representative of a struggled “for the soul of the country.” They aren’t really relevant, even to the degree that they’re important. The perfect political football. People literally can’t tell the difference between the state of things as they are and the state of how things would be if they were the opposite, because for the most part they can’t measure the difference between how things are and how things were before they changed.
thanks for an intelligent essay.
i would add, if i may, that the posters reference to FICA raises the question of whether the Federal Insurance Contribution [Act] is “really” a tax or an “insurance contribution.”
For most people this turns into a silly “is it a breath mint or a candy mint” argument. I raise it because it is important to me to try to get people to recognize at least that they get their money back with interest for a purpose directly important to them… the money doesn’t go into a government black hole.
And because it is important to note that “people didn’t notice” when their “tax” was raised 2%… because 2% is exactly the amount it will have to be raised to balance the Social Security budget over the next seventy five years. There would be no social security “crisis” at all if people understood they won’t even notice the “tax” increase that will be needed to pay for their own longer retirement at a time in the future when they will have more money to pay it with.
But people won’t understand that because the Big Liars, and ALL the politicians and press don’t want them to understand that.
Most Americans do not pay attention.
Most do not read newspaper articles that might give them the facts.
At most,if they look at newspapers, they look at the sports page and local news.
Our poor educational system–and lack of respect for education– explains why Americans lack the information they need when they go to the voting both.
Did you know that a large percentage of Americans cannot find their own home on a map??
The National Geographic–Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States.
Sweden scored highest; Mexico, lowest. The U.S. was next to last.
You wrong blame Obama: “t’s that we have a president who, for more than six years now, hasn’t troubled himself to disabuse the public of the incredibly damaging false beliefs.”
The president, and his administration, has tried repeated to explain the facts . He is extremely articulate. But most americans don’t have the
attention span to listen.