Study: Reason Readers Probably Misinformed About Health Care Bill, Stimulus Package

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There's much gloating across the left-leaning blogosphere at the release of this study from Worldpublicopinion.org which argues that Fox News viewers are, on average, more "misinformed" on public policy and economic issues than consumers of other news outlets. This is an old argument, but it's worth looking at what the study's authors consider "misinformation," a judgment that might strike readers as, in some instances, rather subjective.

If you don't think that the stimulus "increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by between two and five million," you were considered by Worldpublicopinion.org to be "misinformed." (They are using numbers from the CBO, whose methodology and modeling was questioned in these pages by Peter Suderman). And you are considered misinformed if you disagree that the "healthcare reform law…would not increase the deficit and would modestly reduce it." Really? Does anyone still believe that the health care bill is not only neutral, but will actually reduce the ever-expanding deficit? Again, I defer to Peter Suderman's very smart, "misinformed" writing on the matter.

Here are some of the other questions asked by Worldpublicopinion.com:

"The bailout of GM and Chrysler occurred under Pres. Obama only (not Bush as well)"
"The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cut"
"When TARP came up for a vote, most Republicans opposed it"
"It is unclear whether Obama was born in the US—or, Obama was not born in the US"

There is a question about the Chamber of Commerce receiving foreign funds, thrown in for good measure, but the questions are weighed heavily towards "misinformation" likely to be believed by the right, including the requisite birther question. It seems pretty clear that one could develop a series of questions specifically targeting misperceptions commonly held by those on the left and generate a blogworthy headline about MSNBC viewers. Indeed, MSNBC and PBS viewers and NPR listeners were most likely to believe the Chamber of Commerce myth, which is based on no evidence at all—unlike the contentious and controversial idea that the health care bill will help reduce the deficit, which is disputed by many very clever people.

Read the whole report here (pdf).

The authors write that "one striking feature [of the survey] is that substantial levels of misinformation were present in the daily consumers of all news sources," concluding that "misinformation cannot simply be attributed to news sources" but to the general climate of partisanship. It's unarguable that Fox and MSNBC are irritatingly reductionist and aggressively ideological, but by ignoring both the biases of the study and the hedging found in its conclusions, those across the blogosphere gloating that Fox viewers alone are half-wits and troglodytes are demonstrating that they are—dare I say—themselves misinformed. 

NEXT: Americans Don't Like the Lunch Michelle Obama Packed For Them, Want to Trade It For Your Twizzlers.

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  1. I wondered if we were going to have another Friday Funnies-less Friday!

    But no, you came through. So –

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  2. Liberal self-affirming study is self affirming.

    1. The can use all the affirmations to keep up the affectations they can get.

      1. Why does the beer steal my ‘y’s? Why?

        1. Because consonants make it skunky.

  3. They are using numbers from the CBO, whose methodology and modeling was questioned in these pages by Peter Suderman

    Again, I defer to Peter Suderman’s very smart, “misinformed” writing on the matter.

    I know Mike.

    I like Peter also.

    He started off kind of quiet, soft and appeasing to the left…but lately he has been kicking ass and taking names.

    He is like a cat stalking his prey…slow methodical unseen then WHAM!!!! He gotcha!

  4. So its one of those “people who disagree with us are misinformed, and we have a ‘study’ to prove it” things? And its attributed to “partisanship”?

    Boring, nothing new.

  5. So, if you don’t buy into objectively wrong left-leaning bullshit talking points then you are “misinformed”, and thus it follows that right-leaning Fox viewers are “misinformed”?

    1. Well, it’s worse than that: if you don’t believe bullshit numbers coming from the government, you are “misinformed”. I mean, what sort of troglodyte are you that you would question the government?

      1. I mean, what sort of troglodyte are you that you would question the government?

        Shouldn’t this phrase summon URKOBOLD or something?

  6. “increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by between two and five million,”

    The slant of the question and the answer they are looking for is given away in the question itself. It would be like a conservative group asking you “LETTING THE GAYS IN THE MILITARY DECREASES COMBAT EFFECTIVENESS BY 32-53% TRUE OR FALSE?????” Guess what they would consider a “wrong” answer?

  7. Oh like it’s such a matter of dispute that FOX News viewers are poorly informed.

    Yeah they are better informed of Republican talking points, but that’s about it.

    1. Re: Tony,

      Oh like it’s such a matter of dispute that FOX News viewers are poorly informed.

      Poorly informed about what? Or do you mean “FOX News viewers are being poorly informed”?

      1. I thought there was a study that showed they were high income earners with college degrees…

        or maybe i am thinking about the Tea party.

    2. Tony|12.17.10 @ 7:45PM|#
      “Oh like it’s such a matter of dispute that FOX News viewers are poorly informed.”

      Compared to?

      1. “”Compared to?””

        Wikileaks?

    3. got a link to back up your assertion? i’m guessing that Fox viewers skew whiter, wealthier, more years of education than society at large, and more informed about basic questions of indisputable political facts (like who represents them in Congress, the names of the three branches of the government, etc.)

      if so, how exactly do you define “poorly informed”?

      1. You have to be kidding.

        No one is whiter, wealthier, and more educated than NY Times readers while no one in media is LESS educated than Beck and Hannity.

        1. Except for
          Frank (I hate myself) Rich,
          Tommy (I love dictators) Freidman, Maureen (why can’t i get laid) Dowd, David (look at that crease) Brooks and
          Pauly (world village idiot) Krugnuts.

          Yeah that’s a real brain trust over there.

          1. Even if they have a narrow view of the world.

        2. Plenty of PhD’s did their dissertations on Marxist economic theory. They were very well read, and very well educated.

          Were they right?

          1. you’re stupid. marxism is an exhortation, not (merely) a prediction.

        3. shrike|12.17.10 @ 8:06PM|#
          “You have to be kidding.
          No one is whiter, wealthier, and more educated than NY Times readers while no one in media is LESS educated than Beck and Hannity.”

          Interesting! Now that you’ve begged the question entirely, I have to ask how much is cherry picking paying these days?

          1. Notice how shrike works wealth-envy AND racism into his post.

            1. He’s usually good for homophobia, too.

            2. Oh, and he also worked in a dose of elitism, by way of slamming “more educated” people – which is odd, because liberals tend to only trust highly-educated people.

              1. Fuck off, Christ-fags.

                1. Christ loves everyone. That’s His bag, baby.

              2. The line in the middle of the road may appear to your ignorant eyes to be yellow, but the experts agree that it is actually indigo. Who am I suppose to believe, you or a few dozen scientist with advanced degrees in relevant subject matter? You may be entitled to your opinion, but not to your facts, and those are decided by a committee.

            3. “Notice how shrike works wealth-envy AND racism into his post.”
              Not to mention abysmal ignorance. The guy’s got ALL the bases covered!

        4. No one is whiter, wealthier, and more educated than NY Times readers

          To be honest Shrike is probably right.

          Blacks, I imagine, tend to read the New York Post.

          I don’t know why I think that.

          If i was black and lived in New York i would read the post.

          I am probably a racist for thinking this.

      2. remember this?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm1KOBMg1Y8

        I admit it was a bit unfair…still very funny.

    4. “Oh like it’s such a matter of dispute that FOX News viewers are poorly informed.”

      I have no problem with the suggestion that anybody who can suffer more than 10 minutes of Fox News is dumber than the average person.

      But I think there’s something to the point that they’re probably no dumber when corrected for bias than the idiots on the left.

      Anybody who identifies with either political party so closely that it dominates their level of general knowledge is an idiot. The more you identify with one of the political parties, the dumber you are? …that shouldn’t even be controversial.

      When you’re ignorant because of the politics you believe in, is that supposed to be better than being ignorant because of the religion you believe in?

      1. Huckabe doesn’t worry me because he is a dumb guy. Quite the contrary he as smart as any politician I have seen, and that is why I am more weary of him than I am of Palin.

        Check out the advertising demographics for Fox. Those figures are never wrong.

        1. Just because you’re a good con man doesn’t mean you’re not dumb in general.

        2. Truth. I’m pretty weary of him myself.

      2. The straight news programming isn’t that bad. You can’t tell me with a straight face that Shepard Smith’s newscast is more biased than NBC Nightly News.

        The opinion shows are generally intolerable, of course.

    5. We’re supposed to buy the word of people who watch MSNBC?

    6. Oh like it’s such a matter of dispute that FOX News viewers are poorly informed.

      Right. At all the Cambridge cocktail parties that I go to, this is common knowledge. Just as is the knowledge that the health care act will reduce the deficit because Obama said so. And that libertarians are icky.

  8. Fucking confirmation bias, how does it work?

  9. [A] Worldpublicopinion.org […] argues that Fox News viewers are, on average, more “misinformed” on public policy and economic issues than consumers of other news outlets.

    I don’t understand the allegation: Does the survey show that a person was actively misinformed by someone, or that the person was simply guessing at the answer? I don’t know how a survey can show this, because saying “I get my information from so and so…” does not mean one has a grasp of the issues or that one even understands what is being discussed. It is possible people of a certain ideological worldview will prefer X news outlet to Y, but from there to say that a person was “misinformed” is a stretch.

  10. Here are some of the other questions asked by Worldpublicopinion.com:

    What? Didn’t they ask “Is Obama A Keynesian?”

    1. For the last time! He was born in Hawaii!!

  11. Only thing funnier today was the item about Michael Moore’s “SICKO” being banned in Cuba.

    1. …NPR listeners are convinced that the Cuban health system is vastly superior to the Yanqui system.

  12. And according to Worldpublicopinion.org, “white” = “black”, “up” = “down”, “yes” = “no”, etc.
    And it you don’t agree, you’re misinformed.

  13. Am I the only one who gets a 404 error on the above Cuban-Sicko story when clicking on the Permalink or Comments? What’s up with that?

  14. That dumb Sarah Palin thinks grocery prices have risen over the past year or so!*

    (*Moynihan wrote a piece about it)

    1. I argued with shriek about it in that thread. I remember.

      TEH EXTERNALITIES, DOOD.

  15. The misconception libertarians erroneously propounded is the idea that there is some objective truth yet to be uncovered. No such truth exists.

    The way forward is to support ideas such as health care for all, stimulus money for those who require it and other programs designed to help those in need. Though these programs may not be perfect, they are useful and work towards a better end. If enough of us come to a consensus about their purported strengths, such as about the money saved or the jobs created, we can reap the benefits of these programs. If we obsess over their alleged weaknesses, we slow down progress.

    You ‘tarditarians should thank me for my tireless and vain efforts in trying to explain this to you.

    1. Not bad, but you didn’t include the part where the “rich” have to pay for this.

      1. Or the part about his pride at helping sheep over fences for years.

    2. No one said there’s an objective truth.

      We just happen to think folks like yourself shouldn’t use our money to fund your shady, useless, impotent, and corrupt schemes; along with all of their unintended consequences. We appreciate the thought, but we’re going to keep our money and you can keep calling us ‘tards all you want.

      1. We just happen to think folks like yourself shouldn’t use our money to fund your shady, useless, impotent, and corrupt schemes; along with all of their INTENDED consequences.

        Fixed it.

    3. to the progressive quasi-socialists’ smug, tireless and vain attempts to ignore the 100 million deaths caused by the program implementers of the 20th century. Would that get in the way of what you call progress?

      1. blah blah blah blah. dude, stalin got marx wrong in really colossal ways. that’s why he had to get rid of trotsky — because trotsky got marx right and knew that it didn’t all mean that stalin should massacre people. it always gets back to your smug, tireless and vain attempts to play your version of the hitler card.

        1. Does the Mao card trump the Stalin card that trumps the Hitler card? Or would that be a proletariat flush?

          1. …if Stalin hadn’t killed Trotsky, you’d be okay with that alternate future?

          2. Hitler was one of them!!!!

        2. Hitler is included with the progressive quasi-socialists, so go bone yourself.

        3. Nobody in their right mind apologizes for hitler, yet we have Cabinet members in the current administration that are proud Mao apologists. The American and European left is riddled with apologists. Are you one?

          1. Congratulations on missing my point, you fucks.

            1. To continue my post, which was interrupted by my wanton use of the ‘enter’ key: my point is not that Stalin, Mao, or Hitler should be excused for what they did, but that it is a tired, smug, and lazy bit of rhetoric to play the ‘genocide’ card on progressivism and/or socialism. Stalin seriously misunderstood Marx, in many respects. Trotsky (and Lenin) were much closer to a right understanding. Since socialism was ‘in the air’ in the early 20th century. Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, have nothing to do with the Marxist ideal of true democracy, or with the challenging Marxist critique of the capitalist state. They are manipulators, not consequences, of Marxism and socialism. If you think you can lay to rest any and all arguments about helping the poor or any other ‘progressive’ policy by playing the Hitler card, or the Stalin card, or the Mao card, then you’re lazy and mistaken. A true bourgeois.

            2. Oh, and I’d forgot: as for whether “I’d be okay with the alternate [sic] future” if Stalin hadn’t killed Trotsky; I’m not sure what that means. My point was just that a Trotskyist interpretation of Marxism-Leninism _does not_ endorse the sorts of things Stalin did. This is part of why Stalin exiled and eventually killed Trotsky. Trotsky knew very well that Stalin was not the person who should be continuing the mission of the revolution; he knew that Stalin was just another bureaucratic despot. Stalin needed to eliminate him to prevent him from endangering his power-grab. I have no idea what to say about a world in which Stalin had not won out, if speaking about counter-factuals is even possible at all, but if it is possible all I would say is that such a world _might_ require us to think that playing the ‘Social programs lead to genocide’ card is just as bad as playing the ‘Slippery slope to Hitler’ card, and that health care or whatever deserves a better argument than “Yes, but what about genocide?”

              When it comes down to it, capital probably bears much more responsibility for 20th century genocide than marx.

              1. So, no True Scotsman, eh?

  16. OMG! TEH STUDIE! DUN BAI SYENTESTS!!!

    Here’s a sample of some of the questions asked in this study.

    1. “In the election that just took place on November 2nd how often did you encounter information that seemed misleading or false?”

    2. “Is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created several million jobs, saved or created a few jobs, or caused job losses?”

    What in the fuck kind of question is this?

    3. Respondents were asked what they thought “economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years” have concluded.

    The good folks were so busy studying misinformation, they neglected to learn anything about weasel words and loaded questions.

    1. “2. “Is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created several million jobs, saved or created a few jobs, or caused job losses?”
      What in the fuck kind of question is this?”

      One carefully worded to deliver exactly the response desired by the poll sponsor. Probably tested in focus groups first in draft form, and then tuned to get the ‘right’ responses.

    1. Schooling Tony:

      Like that video is in any way believable. At the 2:14 mark the state agents had a clear opportunity to shoot George’s dog and failed to do so.

  17. I don’t think you’re being fair in your characterization of the questions Moynihan. The two questions you cite early on, about the stimulus package and about healthcare, are clearly NOT about the respondent’s opinion, but rather about their estimate of what economists in general believe.

    I’m not sure what the study is using as the pool of economists to ask (and you may very well find issue and fault with that methodology) but according to the study you can still believe the stimulus was terrible yet be considered “informed” if you also believe that “most economists who have studied it” estimate otherwise.

    1. I like what you’re saying, but I think the problem is with the part: “most economists”.

      Akin to “most (climate) scientists agree..”

  18. I love shitty survey work.

    1. Me too.
      Especially as a grad student in Statistics.

  19. The whole problem with this stuff is when you go to a party and you overhear a brash Obamatron begin, “…yeah. No, but they did a study….”

  20. I was told by a friend that something called “Wise Health Insurance” is offering health insurance plans starting just $1 a day. That is some thing we all can agree.

    1. Was this “friend” of yours a “Wise Latina Insurance” salesbot?

    2. agree!

      Wait, what?

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  22. Aaaaaannnnnnnd…. I keep beating Reason to the punch, and I don’t even get paid for this shit. What’s the deal?

    http://seanwmalone.blogspot.co…..e-are.html

    Anyway… It’s really shockingpredictable that these douchewaffles actually think that the CBO and the government generally is remotely reliable on economic data. But then I guess this is really a case of the study authors being so woefully ignorant themselves that they don’t even know why they’re idiots.

  23. I’m willing to believe, in principle, “that one could develop a series of questions specifically targeting misperceptions commonly held by those on the left and generate a blogworthy headline about MSNBC viewers.”

    I’d be more convinced, though, if some enterprising journalist just went and did it.

  24. Nothing’s new here, I always hear and read lies everywhere I go. Every politician isn’t worth $hit. You’re all terrible and that’s why America sucks now. Stop worrying about your pockets and worry about the future of your country.
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    1. Why you no want love me long time, spambot?

  25. Really? Does anyone still believe that the health care bill is not only neutral, but will actually reduce the ever-expanding deficit?

    Sure. There exists vast numbers of people who are historically ignorant (Quick, name a social welfare program that came in under pre-program projected costs a decade after creation) but also innumerable folks who somehow believe that that Obama, by virtue of his blackness and community organizing experience, is above the salesmanship* inherent in politics and governnance.

    Don’t get me started on the birthers, troofers, moon hoaxers and Kennedy assassination conspiracy whackjobs.

    *”Not true” and “You lie” were both accurate statements. It goes without saying that those would apply to almost any politician’s pronouncement.

    1. “”It goes without saying that those would apply to almost any politician’s pronouncement.””

      And who repeats those pronouncements more so than the 24 hour news channels. They are more about politics than news.

  26. Worldpublicopinion.org

    Who?

    1. Because I REALLY care what the rest of the world thinks of me.

  27. I think Coke tastes better than Pepsi, thus I am misinformed.

  28. I hope one day I’m smart enough to mindlessly utter the phrase “the stimulus saved or created 3.5 million jobs” anytime someone questions the wisdom of throwing away trillions of dollars.

  29. I’m a physician and I love FoxNews. I’m Cuban and since Beck did his show on Leftists Revolutions, I’ve been a fan. He is the only media personality that has ever done such a thorough job in exposing the evils of leftist revolutions. He is not a formally educated man, but a very smart man, very well informed. I know this because I am well informed; on my spare time I read history books and one of my requirements for a man was one that reminded me of my father –a total history buff who enjoyed watching, not idiotic programming like “Dancing with the Starts,” but reading about history or watching documentaries. That’s the kind of man I got, and out of all of television we both love Fox News the most –second only to History Channel and occasionally Discovery Channel and the occasional documentary. My IQ if you are interested is about 140, as is his. Not something I dwell on, but it seems that in this website you atheist libertarians are so overly preoccupied about discussing your superior intelligence. On a prior blog I noticed many of you do not even understand the evolution theory. Not such a smart group at all.

    1. Who here doesn’t understand evolution? Wtf?

    2. And you say your IQ is what?
      140?

      On a prior blog I noticed many of you do not even understand the evolution theory

      Please cite which comments indicate this.

    3. *Leftist Revolutions
      *Dancing with the Stars
      *My IQ, if you are interested, is 40

      Corrected those for you.

      And who doesn’t understand evolution?

      (I may be feeding a troll, but w/e. There is the possibility that he is serious.)

    4. For a guy with a 140 IQ, you have some difficulty organizing thoughts into a coherent form, aiming at some kind of a point..

      What website did you use for your IQ test? Did you get the free iPad?

  30. Are these people saying they understand what’s in the health care bill?

    Or that they understand the propaganda for the bill?

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