Falsely Overinformed

Falsely Overinformed

by digby

Over at Whiskey Fire, Thers made an interesting observation the other day:

Like most college comp instructors, every semester I give students a brief essay assignment at the start of the term in order to get a sense of their writing skills. I want to know where they are individually, and I want to know where they are as a group. And I want to see if anyone got themselves placed into to one of my sections despite their obvious need for remediation. Standard stuff.

I usually ask them to tell me what they think the most serious problem facing the nation is right now, and how they might solve it. They can say whatever they want; I don't care if they pick terrorism or The Zombie Apocalypse. I just need to see how they write.

Looking at their papers this week and thinking back to past semesters, I'm struck by a certain phenomenon.

By far, most students unsurprisingly say the economy is our biggest problem. But what's intersting is that the students who seem the most familiar with the current National Discourse are more likely to identify the Deficit as the danger. Students less familiar with the ND are more likely to cite unemployment.

By more familiar I mean the students who use quotes or statistics (even though I didn't ask for these), or else mention events like the asinine Default Drama or the latest jobs report. By less familiar I mean students who rely mostly on their own observations and experiences.

How interesting. It turns out that normal people (i.e. those who don't pay attention to the gibbering of the Village)have an instinctive understanding of what's going on while those who absorb the misinformation don't. Whodda thunk?

This shouldn't surprise me, I guess. It takes a lot of work to sort through the political bullshit we read and see everyday. If you don't hear it at all, you are almost surely better off than if you just follow the news cycle superficially. Maybe these so-called "low information" voters aren't so low information after all. Or perhaps it's just that many of the rest of us are "wrong information" voters.

Either way, those of us who are struggling to understand why the elites are so out of touch should probably go for the simple answer --- the problem is the media.

h/t to RP