2 years ago: The 0.014 percent solution

April 12, 2011, on this blog: The 0.014 percent solution

It’s tempting to chalk up that poll response to innumeracy and ignorance, but that would be blaming the victim. Most Americans believe that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting represents a meaningful, significant chunk of the federal budget because they have been told that it does by their representatives in Congress.

Which is to say they have been misinformed. Deliberately. Lied to. Which is to say that members of Congress have been lying about funding for the CPB, NPR, PBS, etc.

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  • Hexep

    Well, at least the Middle Kingdom has /that/ on the ol’ Stars and Stripes.

    A prince’s hand is sharply caught

    for stealing money like a sieve

    or telling tales to Pekingese

    that got a bit too creative

    and now he weeps, in idle hopes,

    that with his tears, they’ll let him live

    but woe to him, that did not know

    The Gong Chan Dang does not forgive

  • A couple of weeks ago, I ran into someone who was convinced that the reason we’re going broke is because the government is pouring trillions of dollars into foreign aid just to feed some starving kids in Ethiopia.

    The foreign aid budget proposal this year is for a mere $47.8 billion dollars. The total federal budget for 2012 (obviously, still no numbers on it this year…) was $3.539 trillion.

    So about 1.35% of our budget goes into feeding starving kids in other countries. Yes, that is such bank breaker, isn’t it.

  • other lori

    This is the second-most amusing things that Americans are wildly wrong about.

    Personally, I think the first-most amusing is that most Americans think that about a quarter of the population is gay, and that women and young adults believe that about a third of people are gay.

    Less amusing but almost as baffling is the belief that sex offenders have a 100% recidivism rate, when in fact of all criminal offenders, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate.

    It leads me to conclude that everything Americans know, we learned watching ABC sitcoms and Law and Order: SVU, tuning into Fox News during commercials. That’s pretty much the extent of our engagement with reality.

  • It saddens me that I have to try and decide which part of that is engaging with reality: Law and Order, or the only other viable candidate… ABC sitcoms.

  • other lori

    I’m pretty sure that all three are providing equally-valid information.

  • other lori

    I certainly didn’t mean to imply that Fox News was engaging with reality in a genuine way. I’m just trying to figure out how we’re so completely wrong about so many things. I’m going to hypothesize that we learn about sexual identity from sitcoms, criminal behavior from SVU, and government spending from Fox News. And we are wildly wrong about all of it.

  • todtown

    Agreed. However, fear is the culprit in most of these misbeliefs. Politicians and the media are well aware that if they scare us enough we will believe just about anything. Fear itself is an exaggerated emotion. That’s why despite the fact that only about 5% of people required to register as sex offenders will ever commit another sex crime, the public is driven into hysteria by the belief that their women and children are being eaten by creepy monsters in raincoats. And only less than 10% of the population considers themselves to be gay, but homophobes think that homosexuals are hijacking marriage away from the good Christians of this country.