Sunday, January 09, 2005


Perception vs. Reality

A recent study has shown that journalists, by concentrating on the biggest spending electoral races, encourage widespread misperception. In a survey conducted by social scientists at MIT and Stanford, it was found that "people with less education (and thus lower tendency to read newspapers) had, on average, the most accurate estimates of the average amount of money spent in politics and the relative importance of interest groups."

Informed readers' opinions on the subject, on the other hand, closely tracked the lopsided reporting they'd been exposed to. They over-estimated the impact of corporate and PAC money; their estimates of amounts spent on campaigns was over seven times that actually spent.

So, on average, the people in the nation with the most accurate view of politics are the least informed. At least on this issue.

--Paul Jacob

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