Tuesday, November 8, 2016

People learn the facts they need

First, the goal of Do Facts Matter? is not to skewer the public or politicians for their ignorance. . . .
. . .
For one thing, it is difficult to define meaningful political ignorance; what people need to know to be effective citizens is not obvious. As the columnist Gene Weingarten (1996) pointed out, 40 percent of adult Americans may be unable to name the vice president but "72 percent of the residents of greater Helena, Mont., were able to identify, on one of those creepy diagrams, every known slice of cow"—and the vice president probably cannot do that. People learn the facts they need to run their lives but do not bother to learn facts that seem valueless in their particular circumstances.
Jennifer L. Hochschild & Katherine Levine Einstein, Do Facts Matter? Information and Misinformation in American Politics (Norman, Okla.: Univ. Of Oklahoma Press, 2015), ch. 2 (citing Gene Weingarten, "Read It and Veep," Washington Post, Feb. 4, 1996).

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