Friday, May 29, 2009

Short Stuff

Just a few bits and pieces found on the net.
  • If you follow Pennsylvania politics, you can take this quiz and see how much you really know (I didn't even try).
  • What is political ignorance? An economist and blogger explores the topic. At the bottom you can follow to later links and discussion.
  • A new book argues that to advance our understanding of political knowledge we must consider five principal areas of research: the traditional model, heuristic models, impression-driven models, affect-based models, and models of operative knowledge. I plan on reading the full chapter soon. Will report back.
  • Perhaps people don't do well on political knowledge tests because they're just not motivated to try hard. That's the focus of this conference paper (abstract only).


Concerned Citizen said...
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Concerned Citizen said...

Interesting view on political knowledge. I am of the unscientific opinion that people, for the most part, are to lazy or unmotivated to learn about politics and our political system. I am sure there are many causal theories on why, but some of my own include the decline in Civics and Social study in our public schools and the influence of the media (print and television) on peoples opinions. Classes on our Nation and how our political system works should be mandatory and compulsory throughout the primary education k-12. People seem to inherently trust what is reported in the media with little or no thought (or effort) to gathering their own information or even forming their own opinions. The media has taken advantage of this (both liberal and conservative although the media is primarily liberal with only a few notable exceptions) and today is not an Edward R. Murrow reporter of facts, but an opinion engineering medium that unduly influences the public opinion. This is not to say that media in Murrow’s time did not influence opinion, but rather that media today does it on steroids. I think journalism could help itself by focusing on the reporting of facts, but that is another discussion. I also have the unscientific opinion that lack of knowledge is not so much the lack of capacity to understand, but a sort of modern data overload. One hundred years ago, the general knowledge required to move through life was much simpler than today. It allowed individuals to allot knowledge time and effort to areas that take a back seat today. We today are aware and engaged in much more of the world picture, bombarded by technology, inundated by rules and regulations, social issues, cell phones, advertising, twitter!, adinfintium. The mind has the ability to parse information and allot more ‘time and effort’ to those activities required to simply exist. Some of this is by necessity and some by choice. A lot more could be said on this topic, but my lunch ½ hour is about up and I must allot my knowledge time and effort to what pays the bills.