Joho the BlogOther than plain old stupidity, how do you explain this? - Joho the Blog

Other than plain old stupidity, how do you explain this?

From Salon:

According to a new Harris Poll, 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion. That’s a sharp and rather inexplicable increase from February 2005, when just 36 percent of the public held on to that belief. Ready for more? Sixty-four percent of the public still thinks that Saddam Hussein had strong links to al-Qaida.


12 Responses to “Other than plain old stupidity, how do you explain this?”

  1. Stupidity. To the point it’s tragic.

    Apathy. Why spend time learning about reality?

    And very effective language used by the Bush Administration. All insurgents – even homegrown ones – in Iraq are ‘terrorists’…every action we take in the Middle East is to fight the ‘war on terror’.

  2. Fear, unfortunately, rules the day again and who better to have a policy of fear than the Bush Administration. When terrorism hit Israel, perhaps to some, it hit too close to home.

  3. The moral of the story is, propaganda works, especially when repeated enough times.

  4. Perhaps the science which explains how random sampling polls reflect reality does not, in fact, reflect reality?

    It’s been explained to me a number of times, but I still fail to understand how 1000 people sampled at random can be expected to necessarily coincide with the opinion distribution of 300 million people in any reliable way.

  5. Re polls and sampling. Perhaps we need a campaign to

    “Just Say No To Pollsters”

    Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s way too much politics these days that is driven by polls and/or validated by polls.

  6. To get back to beliefs, I can’t hate Americans one by one, but I can still hate the system. Given the quality of mainstream news in the USA and how few people pay attention to even that, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that these basic untruths are widely held.

    Really. US doublethink is ++ungood. War = Peace, Censorship = Free Speech, Police State = Freedom, Terror = Power.

  7. Hello !

    Very very interesting to read you…from Brussels, Belgium !

    You have a lovely blog ! Very nice !

    Thanks for that !




  8. If it wasn’t a rhetorical question, I think the answer’s “cognitive dissonance”. If you’re of a critical cast of mind you’ll be accustomed to the idea that our political representatives don’t always live up to their own rhetoric: sometimes they have priorities they aren’t telling us about, sometimes they don’t really understand the situation and work it out as they go along, sometimes they do a bit of both.

    For people unaccustomed to thinking critically, though, those thoughts would be deeply unsettling. And I think there are a lot of uncritical thinkers out there these days. What concerns me most about the current US administration is its capacity to make a positive appeal to those people and encourage them to carry on that way. This isn’t an elitist, anti-redneck argument: I think the looked-it-up-in-my-gut mentality has a sneaking appeal to all of us* (try picking nits with a Chomsky supporter some time). My concern is that it’s actually being mobilised: a lot of good, decent people are being told that it’s OK not to think critically – even that it’s virtuous or patriotic. And a lot of them are listening, if that poll’s anywhere near valid.

    *Except of course me, and possibly you.

  9. I heard a whole lot of confusion being uttered while sitting in an airport on a transfer on my last trip.

    The regular people were really confused as to what was and is Iran and what and is Iraq. They seem to be interchangeable in the minds of regular folks. They know Iran is building nuclear plants and may build something from the products of these plants, but they can’t figure out why they are doing this if we are occupying their country after we got rid of Saddam. Listening to the people try to sort out what was Iraq and what was Iran was like watching people try and change direction of the vortex in their toilet. I heard the phrase, “see Cheney was right” a few times during this confusion.

    I also heard the same groups discussing why Iran/Iraq was attacking Israel.

    I am getting convinced that the politicians on the right like whacking away at the education system so they have poor minds to get behind their causes. It started as a joke, but now I am not so sure it is not their plan.

  10. It is hard for me to believe a random poll of 1000 people can be correlated to the opinions of 300 million… 1000/50 = 20/state. In CA: 2 from San Diego, 2 from L.A., 2 from San Francisco, 2 from Nappa, 2 from Santa Barbara, 2 from Berkeley, 2 from Burbank, etc… But… this said…

    I agree with the general premise, based on my day-to-day interaction with a diverse cross-section of Americans, that we are mostly good-hearted, but a lot of over-protected, ignorant, lazy, apathetic, self-absorbed, and fat lemings; which makes us easy prey for the well-financed and well-networked political elite.

  11. “…I still fail to understand how 1000 people sampled at random can be expected to necessarily coincide…”
    They don’t necessarily, but there’s a probability that they will, and the degree of probability can be fairly closely specified. There are statistical failures that are legendary, but one gauge of reliability is statistics’ routine use in manufacturing and auditing. If America entrusts its dollars and cents to statistics, you can be sure they’re not a figment.
    For better or for worse.

  12. Coincidentally, the day after posting my comment above I read this (subscription required for full content):

    Faith is the engine of injustice in Tulia, as it is in America as a whole: not the religious kind of faith, but the kind that convinces people that the world is conforming to their idea of it, however much evidence there may be to the contrary.

    Exactly what I was trying to get at, in half the number of words. I hate it when that happens.

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