In yet another display of ignorance, a recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows that 49% of Republicans surveyed blame the now defunct organization ACORN for President Obama’s victory in November. The culture of ignorance that has been cultivated by the GOP over the last thirty years is absolutely astounding. I’m sure many of you remember the study that showed Fox News viewers were actually less informed than people that watched no news at all; the PPP poll is yet another symptom of the greater illness that infects the GOP.
The way I saw it, the GOP had two options after the election. Either they could totally renovate the party, acknowledge the shift in thinking in the US and re-brand themselves as more moderate. Or, they could go off the deep end, bury their heads deeper in the sand and tighten their death grip on stupidity. It seems they’ve chosen the latter, which is fine with me, as it will most likely prove to be their undoing.
I would like nothing more than to see the ridiculous, vacuous, and childish policies and ideals that comprise the Republican party marginalized and eventually forgotten. It seems that the dumbing down of the GOP, specifically the Tea Party and Religious Right, has been a purposeful act. One study showed that Fox News tailored their programming to something that would elicit fear from young children. Perhaps this is because their viewers tend to have lower IQs than the American Average. This Fairleigh Dickinson University study shows Fox News viewers have an average IQ of 80, which is well below the national average of 100. I think it’s also worth nothing that it’s also only 10 points about 70, which is the level agreed upon by most psychologists as mentally handicapped. This poll was a follow up to an earlier poll, also by Fairleigh Dickson University, which found that Americans who watched only Fox News were less informed than people who watched NO news at all. That’s right, less informed than people who watched no news, at all. This seems to me to be a pretty strong indication that not only is Fox News biased, but it’s also downright fictitious.
“…the poll found strong evidence that voters were substantially misinformed on many of the key issues of the campaign. Such misinformation was correlated with how people voted and their exposure to various news sources.” The author went on to say, “Voters’ misinformation included beliefs at odds with the conclusions of government agencies, generally regarded as non-partisan, consisting of professional economists and scientists.”
Here are some examples of the misinformation issues agreed upon by Fox News viewers or Americans who relied solely on the Republican entertainment media complex, which includes talking heads like Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.
Though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the stimulus legislation has saved or created 2.0-5.2 million jobs, only 8% of voters thought most economists who had studied it concluded that the stimulus legislation had created or saved several million jobs. Most (68%) believed that economists estimate that it only created or saved a few jobs and 20% even believed that it resulted in job losses.
Though the CBO concluded that the health reform law would reduce the budget deficit, 53% of voters thought most economists have concluded that health reform will increase the deficit.
Though the Department of Commerce says that the US economy began to recover from recession in the third quarter of 2009 and has continued to grow since then, only 44% of voters thought the economy is starting to recover, while 55% thought the economy is still getting worse.
Though the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that climate change is occurring, 45% of voters thought most scientists think climate change is not occurring (12%) or that scientists are evenly divided (33%).
One can’t help but wonder why this level of deceit and misinformation is necessary, and where the motivation to lie so blatantly and so often comes from. I read one opinion a few months back that posited the reason Mitt Romney was able to lie like a rug and not bat at eyelash was because his entire life is predicated on nonsense and untenable, irrational beliefs. I’m referring to his religious faith, which is of course, Mormonism. The level of denial a person would have to maintain to harbor beliefs as outlandish and ridiculous as those put forth by the Mormon Church would have to be fairly significant. People who adhere to religions such as Mormonism, Fundamentalist Christianity, Muslims and other, similar cults are indoctrinated from a young age, and trained to shut off the part of the brain other people use for critical thinking and analysis. (Scientific American reported on some research that shows that religious people have actual, measurable, physical brain damage.) They’re told truth is absolute, black and white, and that there is no gray area whatsoever. Therefore, if an issue lands outside their narrow paradigm, it must be wrong, and the religious are trained to attack or ignore things that don’t fit their worldview.
In the study I mentioned earlier, regarding the average IQ of Fox News viewers, the lead researcher stated:
“Less intelligent animals rely on instinct when confronted by something which they do not understand. This is an ancient survival reaction all animals, including humans, exhibit. It’s a very simple phenomenon, really; think about a dog being afraid of a vacuum cleaner. He doesn’t know what a vacuum is or if it may harm him, so he becomes agitated and barks at it. Less intelligent humans do the same thing. Concepts that are too complex for them to understand, may frighten or anger them.”
There is a similar phenomena that occurs in the religious, when confronted by something they can’t abide or somehow fit into their belief system they experience something psychologists refer to as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance describes the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions, ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc. I think this goes a long way in regards to explaining why the Republican media tends to focus on ideas that are irrational, erroneous and often downright false. Their viewership is trained in such a way that they are able to absorb and rationalize utter nonsense on a regular basis, and Fox News, AM Radio and the other outlets that cater to the Religious Right/Tea Party appear to understand that fact.