Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Political Knowledge ... in the news

How often does the phrase political knowledge turn up in the news?  A lot.  A few examples I present below, all worth a quick read.  I'm pulling sections where the phrase turns up.
  • "The dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and a political scientist, Delli Carpini has spent a career marking what he says is the "decline in professional journalism and the sorry state of the public's political knowledge." Nothing in his research suggests to him that the traditional press will be able to recapture its role as the central provider of public information."  Full story here.
  • "The difference is that the Times only thinks that examples of Republican ignorance are newsworthy and relevant to our civic enterprise, even though Republicans consistently outscore Democrats in polls testing political knowledge." Full piece here
  • "When our political knowledge is tested, most of us tend to flunk."Full column here.
These are only in the last few days.  The first bullet item above has to do with decreasing coverage of statehouses by news organizations.  The second one is more interesting, in part a discussion of the myth of Obama's Muslim religious identification, in part a defense of Republicans who outscore Dems on other knowledge questions, just not the Muslim one.  The final one is a good column by Clarence Page.

You'd be surprised the odd places the phrase political knowledge turns up.  The ones above, they all fit -- more or less -- the mission of this blog.  Many others.  Not even close.  One recent example is an article about religious beliefs by a Notre Dame sophomore which happens to mention political knowledge. "God will transform the knowledge we learn from literature about people and turn it into true love for our neighbors," he writes.  "He will use our historical and political knowledge to bring truth to our entire society."

Can't argue with that.  Dunno what it means, exactly, so I can't argue with it.

The phrase is used like a blunt instrument sometimes, designed to pound the "other side" into submission.  At other times, it's a passive-aggressive tool, as in someone whining about their lack of political knowledge and then offering, yes, an opinion on some issue.



I've surrendered. I created a wiki account and was going to put in an entry about political knowledge, but my teaching and other responsibilities this semester are weighing me down, so if I do it at all it'll be during a holiday break.  Sorry, wikifans.

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