Thursday, December 29, 2016

Both Trump And Clinton Voters Believe What They Want To Believe

Many of us respond favorably to information which supports our prior belief system.  Of, course many also believe things for which there is little or no information to support a cherished belief.  The Economist sponsored a survey which asked both Trump and Clinton voters to indicate their belief or disbelief on a set of issues.  Trump voters tended to believe many things that are not true but many Clinton voters also tend to believe things that are consistent with their priors.  Trump voters, not surprisingly, were more likely to have stronger false beliefs.

Winston Churchill once said that there are many problems with Democracy.  Of course, misinformed voters is one of its major problems.  Most Americans have a poor understanding of the major issues that divide Trump and Clinton.  On the other hand, Churchill concluded that despite its problems, Democracy was better than the alternatives.  Enlightened monarchs and autocrats are a rare breed.  Ironically, digital technologies make it much easier for people to have access to information but they have also made it easier to spread false information.  The jury is still out on the future of Democracy in an era when responsible journalism is under attack, and the use of digital media to misinform the public has become more common.

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