Politics

Poll: Nitwits Skeptical of Dimwits

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Zogby Interactive has proof of Cavanaugh's 37th Truth About These Here United States: There's never been a country where every citizen is more certain that every other citizen is an idiot.

A majority of dumbasses have denounced the majority of nincompoops.

The latest no-confidence vote comes from a poll wherein 72 percent of Americans declare that "most of the country is not politically engaged and does not follow the news from Washington closely." 

Note that this is the true disdain of the bar-room pundit and the Thanksgiving-table curmudgeon. It's not just that most Americans believe most Americans are ignoramuses, but that they specifically exclude themselves from that unhappy count. Here's how poll respondents self-ranked:

Despite the belief that most Americans do not pay attention to the news, 85% of Americans say they personally follow the news closely. Of those, 62% say that while there are some news stations and papers they like and some they do not, they can usually find a reliable source for news. The remaining 23% who follow the news closely say they have a difficult time finding a news station or newspaper they like and they do not see many reliable sources for news. Twelve percent of respondents say they once followed the news but no longer watch because they have been turned off by the quality of news programming and reporting.

How can such a country live with itself? Readers will say I'm making the following story up to further Reason's anti-Palin agenda, but it's true: On a recent airplane flight, I sat behind two women who were not traveling together but broke the ice by discussing the late Ted Kennedy's memoir, which one was reading. The other lady had never heard of Ted Kennedy, and needed the first to describe who he was. From the exchange it seemed to me that the second woman didn't even know that there had ever been a president named John Kennedy, though I'm hoping I just misheard. The first woman patiently went through the storied careers of the Kennedys, and when she'd finished the other one said, "Well I want to get that Sarah Palin's book. I'm a big fan of hers."

Yet the two of them—separated by about 100 years in age, an apparently great distance in awareness of political matters, and sharply distinct attitudes toward politicians who are said to be among the most polarizing in recent history—got along famously, gabbing amiably through a four-hour journey. It was an encouraging show of our open and gregarious national character— unless you had to listen to it, in which case you were wishing you could crash the plane into a tall building.

Related: Uninformed Buffoon Barely Comprehends Conversation About Taylor Swift.

NEXT: The Two Sarkos

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  1. What I’m skeptical of is George Soros.
    The United States is the only country in the world that deliberately fails to develop its own energy resources. Other than instituting price controls, this is the single most destructive economic policy that a country can pursue, which is why no one does it except us.
    Brazil has one of the world’s most dynamic economies and is pursuing petroleum development on a grand scale. The Washington Post reports:

    Everything about the shipyard here is colossal — the 4,000-man workforce, the billions sunk into it in capital costs, the half-finished 10-story-high production platforms.
    But then, so is the challenge facing Brazil’s state-controlled energy company, Petrobras: developing a group of newly discovered deep-sea oil fields that energy analysts say will catapult this country into the ranks of the world’s petro-powers. The oil pools are 200 miles out in the Atlantic and more than four miles down, under freezing seas, rock and a heavy cap of salt.
    Petrobras, which until recently was little known outside oil circles, has launched a five-year, $174 billion project to provide platforms, rigs, support vessels and drilling systems to develop tens of billions of barrels of oil. Energy officials here project that Brazil — still an oil importer five years ago — will in the next decade have one of the world’s biggest oil reserves.

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if our government pursues policies intended to slow our economic growth, and Brazil pursues policies designed to accelerate its economic growth, before long Brazil will be richer than the U.S. What’s really interesting here, however, is the identity of one of Petrobras’s biggest shareholders:

    With a market capitalization of more than $220 billion, Petrobras is one of the world’s 10 biggest companies. Over the past two years, it has been the most frequently traded foreign company on the New York Stock Exchange, trade data show. Among investors bullish on Petrobras is George Soros, who last year made the oil company the largest single holding in his investment fund, according to Bloomberg.

    That’s right: the Godfather of the Democratic Party, who exerts his enormous political influence to prevent American oil companies from developing our own petroleum resources in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, has placed his biggest bet–not on the United States, but on Brazil. If Exxon Mobil can’t compete in the Caribbean with Petrobras, the value of Soros’s Petrobras investment will skyrocket. That’s the sort of thievery that lies behind the Democratic Party’s deliberate hobbling of the American economy.

    1. nothing to see here move along with the fluff piece

    2. You’re right. That’s why in the last 100 years the United States has become poorer and poorer while countries relying on their oil wealth, like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Brazil have gotten richer and richer. Truly, the only hope we as Americans have is to stop futzing around with this service sector claptrap, these ridiculous electronic gizmos and these foolish engineering product, and devote ourselves to the extraction of raw materials. It’s a surefire path to economic success. And it’s certainly true that Brazil has a much more business friendly climate than the US; while we are burdened by paying taxes to the government, Brazilian companies just have to pay bribes to multitudinous officials in exchange for not officially existing. That is, unless they want to grow to be big enough to need to keep accounts for their own sake, at which point they’re screwed.

  2. While I’m shocked, shocked, that ignoramuses can live and prosper in the oceans of free information that surround us all, I think we all (secretly) thank god for their existence. We can look smart without even trying. A toast to the ignoramuses I say.

    1. Except the the ignoramuses vote. Therein lies the problem.

  3. in which case you were wishing you could crash the plane into a tall building

    (forwards Tim’s email to the TSA)

    The other lady had never heard of Ted Kennedy, and needed the first to describe who he was

    Maybe she’d only heard of Edward Kennedy? Or Teddy Kennedy?

  4. Ted who?

  5. Tim, just out of curiosity, if 72% of people said that they “believed that most of the country doesn’t care about cricket, and does not follow the cricket news closely,” would that make them ignorant or stupid?

    It would certainly be a gap in their knowledge, but that hardly makes them stupid.

  6. Most people I know from work support the free health care bill.The “really smart ones” know the only totally free health care is the “public option” and when I told one the “public option” might be stripped from the bill he asked confusedly “then what’s left”?
    I replied “employer provided insurance,buy your own health insurance,or pay a fine”.All he could say was “Fuuuuuck!”.That guy reads The Economist ,in dead tree form,cover-to-cover every week.

    The Dems would really be better off if it doesn’t pass they they can tell their base it’s all Bush’s Sarah Palin’s fault.

    1. Those same colleagues really do get their news from John Stewart and SNL.The lesbians all know who Rachel Maddow is too.Everyone of them has at least a B.A./B.S.

      1. Echo chambers make you stupid, even if you don’t start out that way.

      2. Yeah, well, we all know what those letters stand for.

      3. Holy shit, that was funny. Fuuuuck. You left out fucking Bill Maher. Nightmare. I had a friend, an accountant, summa cum blah blah, tell me if we could “cure” global warming, then we could end all of the wars in the world.

        That’s why the whole “American Dream” is a fucking scam. A college degree doesn’t mean jack shit. It’s a joke.

        As I have said in other post, I can’t criticize Obama without getting the Rush or Beck card pulled on me. They know Beck from Stewart, SNL and Maher. Beck could be standing next to me and they wouldn’t fucking know it.

        My same friend who wants to “cure” global warming had no fucking clue who Pelosi, Reid, her own state’s members of Congress were, not the Federal Reserve, but damn sure knew who Gore was. Or Michael Moore, or the last 5 winners of American Idol. Biden, maybe.

        Try this one, ask your co-workers who their 2 (or 3) Senators are, and who represents their district in the House. No fucking clue. 1 out of 6 if you’re lucky.

        I certainly have had my head up my ass in my younger days, but I can’t fucking believe how clueless, and apathetic, 30 to 40 year-old, “educated” people are in this country. Cap and Trade – that’s some kind of program where ganstas trade in threir guns after cappin’ someone. Frightening.

        1. I can’t criticize Obama without getting the Rush or Beck card pulled on me

          I was visiting my family for Thanksgiving, and someone saw Beck on the TV and said “there’s your guy!”, even though I had never spoken to them once about Beck or given them any reason to think I liked him. But because Beck says he’s a libertarian, dumb fucks who don’t know shit about it just take it for granted.

          Beck really chaps my ass, along with the idiots who don’t understand that he’s not a libertarian.

          1. I don’t have a problem with Beck. He’s an entertainer as much as Maher, who also claims to be a libertarian. I don’t label myself and, frankly, had no idea what libertarianism was until becoming more informed and, like most people I suppose, ended up navigating my way over here. Don’t remember how, really, but I am comfortable to wear the hat.

            However, if you aren’t a bleeding-heart liberal, your’re with Bush, or Palin now. Oh, and I discovered Peter Schiff from him being on Beck and scaring the shit out of me a few years ago. Financially, I wish I would have listened to Schiff because if you haven’t seen the speech he gave some mortgage brokers in Neveda (I believe it was Neveda), you should. I like Thomas Sowell as well and believe I heard him on Beck as well. Maybe not. I sure as fuck didn’t get introduced to Schiff or Sowell watching Real Time.


            1. I don’t have a problem with Beck. He’s an entertainer as much as Maher, who also claims to be a libertarian.

              and they’re both friends w/ Ann Coulter… (a deadhead)

              i like beck, i know he’s a neo-con slowly staggering in the right correct direction. he’ll probably never be where i am, but that’s ok. he’s amusing, and he speaks some truth. i will even occasionally listen to Alex Jones (hates Beck!) just for fun, Alan Colmes for a laugh, and read Paglia for some guilty pleasures. i’m not a “Paultard” but i’d happily vote for him. as a minarchist who is leaning anarcho-capitalist (probably/sorta), i can’t see the point of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good…

              1. Coulter’s hilarious. Paglia is spot on often. Alex Jones plays a role, like Gore. I wouldn’t want him holding office. Jones/Sheen 2012? I’d vote for Corky Ramono at this point. Never listened to Colmes. Hannity I can’t listen to – uninteresting besides never missing a beat prefacing Bill Ayers with “unrepentant terrorist.” You can actually get information from Beck. Or, you can watch Ed, Chris, Keith, and Rachel and learn all about Beck.

                My work for the last ten years has been conducive to talk radio, unless you want to listen to Mr. Brightside 500 times a day. Ipod would eventually get smashed!

            2. Thomas Sowell is the man.

        2. The beauty of America is that even though we’re no smarter than people anywhere else, we still manage to be vastly more productive. That’s because in spite of all the bullshit we put up with we’re still the easiest country to start a business in in the world, have one of the world’s most flexible labor markets, and live inside one of the world’s biggest free trade zones. Never before has so much been accomplished by so many dipshits and dimwits. God bless America.

        3. had no fucking clue who Pelosi, Reid, her own state’s members of Congress were

          What state do you live in? While I certainly expect people to know who THEIR Senators and Representative are, I hardly expect someone from, say, California to be able to name all 55 members of their Congressional delegation not matter how well informed they are.

          1. I didn’t say all of them. Actually, that portion of my comment lacked specificity. Their district I would hope. That’s three people I would hope people can identify because an awareness of who you are voting for in Congress is much more important to me, and the country I think, than the president.

            More to the point, really, is I have a problem when people speak with arrogance and certainty about threir choice for president and are oblivous to anyone who represents their state in the House, much less their own district.

            Like I suggested, ask 6 people you know (the most “informed” – I realize that is subjective) who those 3 people are. I have a friend who rarely is not acquainted with an issue, or national politician I bring up who knew those three people but no idea who his governor was. It wasn’t THAT long ago I pulled my head out of my own arse, so I can empathize, but when you asked me beforehand about a candidate, an issue, or a policy, my general response was: “I have no idea.” Years ago I use to feel somewhat ashamed that I didn’t vote, but now I realize I did the country a favor.

            I guess it’s really an innocuous point as long as we cure global warming, thus ending all of the wars.

  7. Well, this would explain why so many people voted for McCain.

    It would also explain why Obama got elected.

    Eh. Fucked either way. Might as well watch the slide into the abyss. Where’s my bottle of Jagermeister?

    1. I voted for McCain because he carried Butch’s grandiddy’s watch up his anus for all those years in the POW camp. And he’s a maverick; he’s not afraid to receive a reach-around across the aisle. He reminds me of Hayek with his economic prowess.

      1. IMO, the only good thing about McCain is that he survived in a hellhole Vietcong prison cell.

        McCain-Feingold, alone, precludes McCain from ever faithfully upholding his oath to the Constitution.

        Sorry, I take the First pretty seriously.

        1. I just like True Romance. McCain is certainly a war hero. He got a great deal of support because of that.

          Picking Palin, in anticipation of Obama picking Hillary, was idiotic.

          Really, though, the Dems could of run Midget Mack against the I-hate-Bush zietgeist.

          I was none-too-pleased with the choices in the election. My mantra was, “we just can’t afford to put Obama in office with the loons in Congress.” It had nothing to do with McCain. I was right. Nightmare. Go and watch the little video the Reason staff made of the incoming prez. I’d like to see a follow up.

          1. Saw that video.

            We were, as has been the case for the last few cycles, presented with two shit sandwiches – and those of us in third-party columns didn’t ORDER sandwiches, nor wish to dine upon anything even remotely sandwich-shaped.

            The Dumb Masses, as Boortz likes to say, did partake of sandwiches – and a small majority chose the Democrat Shit Sandwich, with chips made from free-range fair-trade potatoes.

            Thus, we are fucked for another three years – until either the current prez is kicked to the curb, or gets ANOTHER term to pound sand up the anus of America.

            Depressing, isn’t it.

            1. I was actually referring to the scene in Pulp Fiction. Walken in True Romance is a favorite as well. Can’t beat Gary Oldman, though – The Drexel.

          2. Palin would have been marginally better than either Obama or McCain, imo, if only because it would have taken her longer to figure out how to steal from us.

        2. I’m not so sure that McCain surviving counts as a good thing in my book. It is easy to forget that half of all Americans are dumber than average and the average ain’t all that bright either.

  8. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be very hard to find anecdotal evidence identifying slack jawed supporters of any politician or political agenda. Then again the that wouldn’t serve as an outlet for those so well indoctrinated in the finer aspects of Palin derangement syndrome.

    1. Much as I despise Palin, her detractors like to use terms like “toothless inbred hillbillies” to describe her fans, which is odd considering a) liberals are supposed to be against hate speech and negative stereotypes and b) liberals claim to NOT be elitists while engaging in elitist behavior.

  9. The latest no-confidence vote comes from a poll wherein 72 percent of Americans declare that “most of the country is not politically engaged and does not follow the news from Washington closely.” … despite the belief that most Americans do not pay attention to the news, 85% of Americans say they personally follow the news closely. Of those, 62% say that while there are some news stations and papers they like and some they do not, they can usually find a reliable source for news.

    The statements from these polls may be true without assuming mass delusions about personal behavior. Do the math:

    Out of the 85% who say they follow the news closely, 62% say they have a reliable source of news. This means that only 53% or so of the populace that could be contacted via a poll say they closely follow a reliable source of the news. Now, if we assume that even a small minority of the populace can’t be contacted for any poll because they are out of the news loop and have no phones or computers — hardcore druggies, homeless, functionally illiterate people with very low IQs, gorped out people in nursing homes, etc. — that drops the total below 50% — i.e., most of the country.

    And that doesn’t even try to account for people who lie during the poll or are deluded into thinking that, say, supermarket checkout tabloids or Jon Stewarts’ The Daily Show are a reliable source of news.

    1. And that doesn’t even try to account for people who lie during the poll or are deluded into thinking that, say, supermarket checkout tabloids or Jon Stewarts’ The Daily Show are a reliable source of news.

      Yeah, it’s the old problem of stated preference versus revealed preference. You can always find a hundred people who are exercised about how their fellow Americans are ignorant, but of those 100, only like 13 will know who we fought in World War II or something.

      From now on I’m gonna scoff and roll my eyes whenever somebody doesn’t know that John Hanson was the first black president.

      1. Roll your eyes at me, but I knew the second president, Elias Boudinot, who was an armchair anthropologist who tried to prove that the Indians were descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel. Whatever one may think of his goal in his book, his collection of data about Indian culture was kind of interesting.

        1. But John Hanson wasn’t black, despite those who use an image of a Liberian senator from almost a century later (in clothes obviously from the mid nineteenth century) to claim he was. (Never mind there were no photos of that sort in existence when the John Hanson under consideration was alive anyway.)

      2. Samuel Huntingtoon Tim…the debate rages on.

        Pick ME!

      3. As an aside, when my wife was preparing for the citizenship exam (and her education of American history dwarfs that of most Americans) I brought up the point that the first president was NOT George Washintong…she told me to stop “helping” her or she wouldnt pass.

        I also noticed that even the the correct answer to “What form of government do we have?” is still listed as Republic they do accept Democracy as an answer…that has changed in the last several years.

        On my sacred honor

  10. Excuse me if I don’t share your high opinion of our fellow Americans.

    [sighs, rolls eyes]

  11. Gawd, you people are so disengaged. That dumbass Cavanaugh deserves you for commenters.

  12. Isn’t this along the lines of, “80% of Americans think that they are above-average drivers”?

    BTW, at least 50% of the people that I encounter on my commute to work are idiots.

    .. Hobbit

    1. That was exactly what I was thinking of. Everyone thinks they are a good driver and everyone else is a bad driver.

      Another good one is, all schools stink on ice, but my kid’s school is great.

      I also agree with your estimate of 50% of the people you meet during you commute as being total idiots. I find the exact same number during my commute to work. Of course, I work out of my house so it is easy for me to crunch the numbers.

  13. The other lady had never heard of Ted Kennedy, and needed the first to describe who he was.

    Was the air sickness bag deployed at any time during this discussion?

  14. So, how deeply ironic is it that Tim posts about how An American will, to the man, think every other American is stupid, excepting himself, of course, and a bunch of you friggin’ Ar-tards sign on and say “Amen! Everyone but me is a friggin’ idiot”. And, as your proof…a bevy of anecdotes. Holy crow, folks, it’s like you’re trying to prove Tim and Peter Bagge “correct”.

    D’oh! That whooshing sound…don’t worry about it.

    1. Why so serious?

      1. My father was…a drinker.

  15. The second lady on the plane was messing with the first lady. I like the second lady, she’s funny.

    1. Ah, but the second lady on the plane was Sarah Palin. The first lady bought her book when she was finished reading about the Lion. Sarah obviously knew who Teddy was because she knows of all mavericks. Tim could only hear the conversation. He missed the wink, “ya, tell me about this maverick Teddy Kennedy!”

  16. It was an encouraging show of our open and gregarious national character — unless you had to listen to it, in which case you were wishing you could crash the plane into a tall building.

    lol

  17. I knew the second president, Elias Boudinot, who was an armchair anthropologist who tried to prove that the Indians were descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel. Whatever one may think of his goal in his book, his collection of data about Indian culture was kind of interesting.

  18. Tim,

    There are these things called headphones.

    You might want to invest in them.

    1. I’m sure Tim poked his eardrums out with a ballpoint pen half-way through the flight.

  19. makes sense – you have a huge portion that “doesn’t believe” in evolution. Those anti vaccine crazies. I buy it.

  20. The bumper sticker:

    If you aren’t outraged then you aren’t paying attention

    Actually, I’m probably too cynical from paying attention to give a shit about the insipid mainstream marginalism and political jerking off that you are pretending to be outraged over.

  21. “Despite the belief that most Americans do not pay attention to the news, 85% of Americans say they personally follow the news closely.”

    After someone answered in the affirmative to the question of whether they followed the news closely, the pollster should have asked, “Who is the current Vice President of the United States?” I would be interested to know what percentage could get it right.

  22. but that they specifically exclude themselves from that unhappy count.

    I don’t. I don’t know shit about what’s going on in D.C, and it isn’t for lack of trying. The government is so fucking big that the government can’t figure out everything it’s doing.

    The people who say they’re politically engaged are lying narcissists.

  23. “unless you had to listen to it, in which case you were wishing you could crash the plane into a tall building.”

    DHS will be calling…

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