Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Category: polls (page 2 of 2)

The two flavours of LIHOP

Scripps News thinks that America is crawling with conspiracy theorists:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans think it is possible that some federal officials had specific warnings of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but chose to ignore those warnings, according to a Scripps Howard News Service/Ohio University poll.

But wait, if it really did happen, it’s not a conspiracy theory, is it?

The Carpetbagger points out that this actually describes two different points of view: one, that Team Bush allowed 9/11 to happen because it fit conveniently into their nation-building agenda; and two, they allowed it to happen because… they were so clueless that they ignored warnings about it just as they ignored warnings on everything else. In scenario 1, they’re evil, and in scenario 2, they’re just incompetent.

So which is it? Surely they’re not so evil as to permit Americans to die so they can have their way. Oh, wait, they are. But no one knows if that’s what they were thinking, and the incompetence theory assumes less. So what it comes down to is: which is greater, Team Bush’s capacity for evil, or their capacity for incompetence?

Damn. Put it like that, and you could go back and forth all day.

Election results: Schadenfreude edition

John Howard lost his seat in Parliament.


Mal Brough lost his seat in Parliament.

Heh heh heh.

Who else do I detest?

Labor romps it in

This has been a strange election. It’s been clear for weeks that Rudd would be the new Prime Minister, but I haven’t been able to figure out why. John Howard clearly has always been an odious man with ruinous policies, but which one of his faults undid him in the eyes of the Australian electorate? Was it:

  • the nasty campaign?
  • ceaseless toadying with George Bush?
  • getting Australia into Iraq?
  • cutting funding to Australian universities?
  • throwing asylum-seekers in jail and claiming they’d thrown their children overboard?
  • using the race card to attract One Nation voters and split the electorate?
  • his refusal to sign Kyoto and his foot-dragging on climate change?
  • his leanings toward nuclear power?
  • the GST?
  • undermining the redeveloping autonomy of indigenous Australians?
  • and refusing to say ‘sorry’?

Not for the low-information Australian voters I walk among. Even the controversial IR laws weren’t enough to register on their radar. And Howard’s term has been marked by largely sane monetary policy. Why the revolution?

When I asked, people would say something like, ‘Well, it’s time for a change.’ ‘He’s been in for a long time, and it’s time for someone else.’ Simple voter fatigue.

And so Australia shrugged, and sent Howard packing.

West Australia, I know your results are tallied last, and even if you elect all Liberal Party candidates, it won’t make any difference. But I’ll be very disappointed.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in Australia, but I do it anyway. It’s great because the stores are open, it’s warm outside, and there’s no football. Bit hot for cooking though.

I’m thankful that Labor is looking to win the election this weekend. Saturday night will find me glued to the TV, and perhaps dancing on the couch as we give the mean little man from Earlwood the boot.

Open thread number 400!

Already it is Post 400. You may use this thread for any discussion you wish, like all the other threads. Maybe this would be a good place for comments about the ‘Who is the most batshit insane?” poll. For my part, I have to report a glaring omission: I forgot to add ‘9/11 truthers’ to the list. Oh well, maybe next time.

Bush and Dems, through the floor

Bush at 26% approval. He has now broken through the Crazification Barrier and polled lower than the number of absolutely crazy people that will always be present in any population.

Now here’s the question: if you or I or anyone else were to start acting like Bush, siding with Bush, agreeing with Bush on the vital issues of the day, what would happen to their popularity? Would it go up, do you think? Or would it plummet?

Well, Congress has given in to Bush on lots of issues lately, including war funding for Iraq and abstinence-only sex education (to name two off the top of my head). Let’s see what happens.

The percentage of Americans with a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress is at 14%, the lowest in Gallup’s history of this measure — and the lowest of any of the 16 institutions tested in this year’s Confidence in Institutions survey. It is also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades.

I know America’s a nation of Congress-haters, but this is something else. Americans sent Democrats to Congress to

a) be Democrats, and
b) counteract this insane president.

Instead, they’re refusing to stand up for Democratic values, and fulfilling every stereotype about ‘finger-in-the-wind’ wimpy politicians. It is intensely frustrating, even from where I’m sitting. And the polls are showing this frustration.

In one of his special comments, Keith Olbermann said

Our politics… is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

He was right.

Now what would it take to make it even lower and send Bush’s popularity to, say, four? Surprisingly, the answer is not ‘for Bush to screw up even more’. As if that were possible. No, for year after year we watched Monkey-Boy’s hijinks while his popularity remained improbably high.

But Bush’s popularity among the faithful was never about Bush himself, or his actions. It was more how they ‘felt’ about Bush the Symbol. As long as he remained the rallying point, as long as he represented their feelings of self-worth, as long as they invested themselves in him and his ideology, those numbers were always going to stay high. And since an authoritarian cult of personality abhors a vacuum, stay high the numbers would until a new Saviour could appear — a Republican the public could like. Yeah. Good luck. Who would that be? Cheney? Giuliani? Ha.

But just as soon as someone comes along in which the faithful can invest their sense of self, the Bush cult will utterly collapse, and we’ll see approval ratings in the low teens. The groundwork is already being laid; you’ll be hearing the ‘Bush is not a True Scotsman’ from now until November 2008. Well done, keyboard konservatives. Keep it up. He will come.

Church activity and evolution

Let’s dip our canteens in the stream of public opinion.

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.

And the more often you go to church, the less likely you are to understand facts.

The data from several recent Gallup studies suggest that Americans’ religious behavior is highly correlated with beliefs about evolution. Those who attend church frequently are much less likely to believe in evolution than are those who seldom or never attend.

You see what’s happening here: evolution is being used as an indicator for other kinds of scientific understanding. Good choice, too. It’s as well-supported a theory as we get, so if someone refuses to accept it, it probably means they lack understanding on other scientific topics, as well as skill at knowing how to tell if an idea is good or not.

These results follow some patterns that I think are pretty consistent in religions I know of. As a Mormon, I happily believed unsupported or even counterfactual ideas, as long as I liked them or already believed them. I was sometimes encouraged to superficially examine the basis for my faith, but only if I eventually arrived at the conclusion that the Church was true. And I was given terrible mechanisms for evaluating ideas; basically, if I felt ‘good about it’, it was true. I was also surrounded by parents, friends, and authority figures who constantly worked to build my (and their) faith in false beliefs. And so the religion forms a bubble that keeps you ‘feeling good’ about your beliefs by constantly reaffirming them. It’s very difficult for facts to penetrate the bubble.

Religions are support groups for reality deniers. And so, it seems, are political parties.

Would you vote for an atheist?

Dead last. This must not stand.

Muslims aren’t listed because they actually went into negative territory. Which actually can happen; someone says ‘no’ with such vehemence that it negates other people’s ‘yes’ votes and then some. Happened in Ohio, too.

But how come there’s no category: alcoholic with a criminal record? What would they score? Obviously between 49-51 percent.

A few reasons, perhaps. Atheists have been the Scary Monsters of the American political scene for fifty years. Everyone can dump on them with impunity. And why not? No one knows any atheists. Or if you do, they just tell you that your beliefs are made up, and who likes that? They have no morals, except for the ones they catch by osmosis from Christians. Plus they’re angry. Angry! Grrrrrr.

Wow, I’d scarcely vote for myself! Too scary!

UPDATE: I realised that ‘alcoholic with a criminal record’ doesn’t really cover Bush because the question said ‘generally well-qualified’. My bad.

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