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 Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed

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TheSleepingDragon

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PostSubject: Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed   6/28/2010, 02:26

It seems to me that it is generally taught that to be an educated voter is a responsibility that comes along with the right to vote given to us here in the United States (which is either a democracy or a republic; you all can fight about that). However in the process of trying to be informed in today's information age we are forced to depend on the media's short snippets, or data and information that is summarized for us already. CNBC and Fox hire analysts to dig through the more technical material and give us their take on the issue while also conducting both official and convenience polls.

The media, as I see it, often takes advantage of the lack of attention paid to politics to play short snippets, guide opinion, and generally be misleading.

Take, for example, a comparison between one billion dollars and 840 million dollars. The media will state these two amounts exactly in this manner, which is misleading mathematically since the comparison uses different units. One billion certainly sounds a lot smaller than the one thousand million dollars it actually is, and it can be used to hide the size of a deficit. That's a difference of 160 million that can either be pointed out implicitly or hidden. Sadly the media chooses the latter as a matter of aesthetics.

Also, scientific issues brought to fore in the media are often mistreated or misleadingly reported by supposedly qualified journalists. The clear question we must ask is: why are we trusting someone who spent their life studying how to write a story using as few words as possible, and how to ask the right question at the right time, with understanding something as complex as the issues behind cloning a sheep or who might win an election? Reporting is fine, but far too many analysts or opinions included on talk shows or discussions include someone like the Head Editor of the New York Times. If the discussion is about journalism, I'm all for it, but if it's about something like BP's huge oil spill in the Gulf then I'd rather enjoy a team of engineers and oceanographers to the White House press secretary and BP's representing liason.

What's even more irritating for me is that people don't seem to be bothered with being misled. My hope is that if the population is scientifically literate and numerate enough, they'll see through the media facade instead of accepting it. The media is interested in what sells, and if what sells is scientifically and mathematically illiterate material then it is what they'll do to profit and survive as a business. Should the demands of the viewers change to more wholesome fare then then what how the media reports should soon follow suit.
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GodOfWar

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PostSubject: Re: Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed   6/28/2010, 08:52

The grim reality of this is that the media will always be skewed to one side or another. Political candidates say they want voters to be informed, but that isn't exactly the truth. Informed voters would do research on the candidates, and they might dig up stuff from the past that could harm a candidates campaign. This ruins their chances of being elected. This is why a lot of money is spent on advertisements and endorsements, because politicians rely on people not being an educated voter.
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Socrates
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PostSubject: Re: Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed   6/28/2010, 21:49

Dragon thank you for creating this topic. That is actually the entire reason I created the forum- and the site I am creating to join it. I hope to spread the message that I believe responds to your question.

When I was younger I was a die hard liberal. For those here familliar with my political beliefs that is difficult to believe. But it wasn't the media that shifted me towards my more conservative and libertarian leanings, but rather intellectual discussion and my own research. Reading the works of Ayn Rand, the communist manifesto itself, the constitution, philosophy on law and not only these actions but studying history and the outcomes of various deciions, policies, beliefs and political posturings all together allowed me to become more informed. The media tries to further it's own agenda, the agenda of it's political or business supporters, and in general doesn't want people to be informed because honestly I think if we were all informed- we wouldn't need the media. Atleast beyond just telling us what laws are being passed and what tricks the politicians are up to.

It is the responsibility of every person to be informed to vote. You don't have to be informed by the media, which sadly is the easiest source of information for most people. But you aren't going to learn the benefits of a free market versus the failure of central planning from Glenn Beck or Kieth Olberman as well as you would if you studied the fall of the Soviet Union and how America has been able to become a major world power by limiting government.

I will add, that though I don't agree 100% with the Fox agenda, the majority of hour long "hosted shows" on fox are slightly less skewed than the liberal media preachers.
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TheSleepingDragon

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PostSubject: Re: Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed   6/29/2010, 00:02

*nods*

I do not expect people to necessarily be perfectly informed.
Passably literate numerically and scientifically should, by my mind, grant people the analytical skills necessary to be more than sufficiently politically literate.

Science forces us to face truths about the world; there is no leeway, there is no other possibility: this is what happens and that's all there is to it. Understanding and explaining it requires immense stores of both inductive and deductive logic. (I am referring to physical sciences here, rather than social sciences).

Mathematics forces us to understand truths about truth itself; understanding things about concepts and items that exist only in our minds. It forces us to face the facts about our most powerful thinking weapon: deductive logic, and its severe limitations. In mathematics, as in science, it begs for your eyes to see what is there; but it also asks for your imagination to help expand its boundless logical wonders.

Both are excellent exercises in sheer logic independent of opinion; and I believe that skill in sheer, unadulterated logic is important when we, as voters and citizens, are asked to form an opinion about something. At least then we will be better armed to address more fluid questions.
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PostSubject: Re: Political Paradox: An Issue of Democracy and Being Informed   7/1/2010, 02:15

On a less eloquent note than your previous post, not facing reality and accepting facts has led to more problems in our political realms than anything else. Likely, because it's the only thing I can think of that can beyond politics to earn money.

Take for example laws against drug use- the drug war. We helped spray the coca fields in Columbia with herbicide, so the drug dealers moved north, again we assisted, and they moved to mexico. Now mexico is cracking down, and the drug war is spilling into Texas and the other border states- and creating an immigration problem.

On top of all this, the reality is (as we learned with alocohol prohibition) you can't protect people from themselves. There was less drug use and crime before the war on drugs- and there is less in all foreign developed nations (Europe comes to mind) that has lighter to no drug laws in place.

But our government, refuses to face facts, and hopes continuing to fight and use political posturing will make things better.

I can never understand these things. I encounter people like this in my daily life and just ask why. Why? It's like someone saying a square shape will improve the wheel, and everyone agreeing, and it scares me. It used to make me angry, now though I get angry at times, it mostly just scares me.
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