March 13, 2012
The Problem With Polls About Whether Obama Is a Muslim

Public Policy Polling, which is a Democratic firm, is sometimes maligned for being an unreliable pollster, but in this case the biggest problem is that they’re asking the question at all. The belief that Obama is a Muslim, like the belief that he is somehow not an American citizen, is pernicious and flatly wrong. It has also been rejected by the vast majority of the American body politic, although there are some glaring examples of politicians who flirt with it to score political points. But if the goal is to fight mistaken beliefs, this is the wrong way to do it. The Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan has researched misperceptions and conspiracy-theory belief in America politics. In particular, he and colleague Jason Reifler have found that false ideas, once introduced, are very hard to get rid of. One especially bad way to fight them is to reiterate them:
The more times a false claim is repeated, the more likely people are to be exposed to it. The fewer people exposed to a false claim, the less likely it is to spread. It is also important not to repeat false claims because people are more likely to judge familiar claims as true. As false claims are repeated, they become more familiar and thus may come to seem more true to people.
The pollsters, by asking the question, and news outlets, by gleefully publicizing the results, are playing into this vicious cycle.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

The Problem With Polls About Whether Obama Is a Muslim

Public Policy Polling, which is a Democratic firm, is sometimes maligned for being an unreliable pollster, but in this case the biggest problem is that they’re asking the question at all. The belief that Obama is a Muslim, like the belief that he is somehow not an American citizen, is pernicious and flatly wrong. It has also been rejected by the vast majority of the American body politic, although there are some glaring examples of politicians who flirt with it to score political points. But if the goal is to fight mistaken beliefs, this is the wrong way to do it. The Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan has researched misperceptions and conspiracy-theory belief in America politics. In particular, he and colleague Jason Reifler have found that false ideas, once introduced, are very hard to get rid of. One especially bad way to fight them is to reiterate them:

The more times a false claim is repeated, the more likely people are to be exposed to it. The fewer people exposed to a false claim, the less likely it is to spread. It is also important not to repeat false claims because people are more likely to judge familiar claims as true. As false claims are repeated, they become more familiar and thus may come to seem more true to people.

The pollsters, by asking the question, and news outlets, by gleefully publicizing the results, are playing into this vicious cycle.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

10:02am
  
Filed under: Politics Obama Polls 
  1. thislovelymaelstrom reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. withinmywill reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. throwingoffthebowlines reblogged this from theatlantic
  4. teachingkristin reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. andeternallyso reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. believies reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    srs
  7. deflare reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I have a general policy of mistrusting polls that claim that Americans are stupid; the ones about evolution come to mind...
  8. whenimreallyathundacat reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. parkerlewiscanlose reblogged this from theatlantic
  10. jayaprada reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. lesiamese reblogged this from theatlantic
  12. hentaibagel reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    White people are dumb, HE IS ALSO WHITE.
  13. latrice-royale reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  14. ub14 reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    @K, re: this morning’s conversation.
  15. vsthepomegranate reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I think it would it would be worth asking this question if it ever led to a serious discussion of Islamophobia (and its...
  16. tearlesspoet reblogged this from str8nochaser
  17. alwaystheoviereya reblogged this from str8nochaser
  18. jimrehs reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Is that why middle class republicans believe tax cuts to the wealthy will help them?
  19. peaceshine3 said: Its stupid and gives creit to stupid peoples ideas…THAT is the problem
  20. nahsonimcool reblogged this from theatlantic
  21. str8nochaser reblogged this from sidneyandre and added:
    EXACTLY THIS. CHUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRCH!
  22. wizardblue reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  23. bitchdontcallmenoboots reblogged this from theatlantic