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Maybe We're All Morons
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Reverend Mother cites this PIPA report via Salon, indicating that more Bush supporters tend to believe things that aren't true with regard to Iraq. She wonders aloud if this is relevant to the discussion of whether or not Bush supporters are morons. The Salon article she cites is fairly certain, though, calling Bush supporters a "horde of ignoramuses". Nice.

Now, I'm not going to defend the ignorance of some of the perceptions demonstrated in the report. Although I do think some of the questions and the presentation of the data are a bit misleading. For example, while it is abundantly clear that Iraq did not have large stockpiles of WMD prior to the invasion, whether or not they had any is still something of an open question. I think a better question would have made this distinction. Also, the question about providing "substantial" support to al Qaeda is ultimately subjective. The ties between Iraq and al Qaeda are mostly circumstantial, and not very solid, but neither are they definitive.

I think, if anything, the survey indicates that people believe what they want to believe...which isn't new news. Yes, I find it distressing that these beliefs fall mostly along party lines, but I don't think it demonstrates the idiocy, or detachment of reality, from one side over the other.

Take another issue in the survey, the economy, which is dealt with in the very first question:

Q1. Compared to a year ago, do you think that the nation's economy has:

Gotten better
Bush supporters........48%
Kerry supporters........7%

Is about the same
Bush supporters........32%
Kerry supporters.......22%

Gotten worse
Bush supporters........20%
Kerry supporters.......70%

Now, by almost all objective standards, the economy has gotten much better in the past year. Over 1.5 million jobs have been added since last August. Last summer the economy experienced the largest single-quarter surge in 20 years:

The 3.3 percent overall growth rate in the second quarter followed four quarters of extraordinary growth as the economy expanded at rates of 4.1 percent in the spring of 2003 and then 7.4 percent in the summer, the largest surge in 20 years, and 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter last year and 4.5 percent in the first three months of this year.

So in fact the US economy has experienced great everage growth in the past year, much better than the previous three years. You can argue that Bush still has a net loss of jobs for his presidency, but there is no doubt that the reality is that the economy is better off today than it was a year ago. It's interesting to note that these results aren't "highlights" of the report.

Does this mean that Kerry supporters are all a bunch of retards?

Well, no. I think painting a group with such a broad brush is scurrilous and wrong-headed. Overall I think the report demonstrates that people driven by partisanship are less likely to be objective, and are more willing to believe things that help bolster their image of their group. As one who values objectivity, I don't like to see this trend at all, but it's certainly not limited to one group of people or one political party, and to think so is itself an ignorant, and somewhat elitist, point of view.

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