Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Right's "itching ears" and how they lead them to being WRONG

This guy actually destroys his own argument as he makes it, by the things he claims, the use of "Obamacare" to name the present health care bill, the use of Republican talking points, and so much more... remember that thing about having your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts? You can't say "Nuh-UH, we're not accurate because we disagree with the facts" and then continue to make an argument that deserves being taken seriously. That is exactly what news is NOT supposed to do, Fux! What's most hilarious is that, when he tweaked the entire thing and came up with only four of the questions he likes, then he gets the results he wants. Did you catch that?

Think Progress is pointing out the very thing I suspected most when Stewart's claim was contested by Politifuckedup, and that's the nature of the questions:
To rebut Stewart’s claim, Politifact relied upon irrelevant and off-point studies. Thus, the site cited a number of Pew surveys that examine basic political literacy and relate it to what kind of media citizens consume. E.g., questions like whether people know “who the vice president is, who the president of Russia is, whether the Chief Justice is conservative, which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives and whether the U.S. has a trade deficit.” Too few citizens know the answers to such basic questions—which is lamentable, but also irrelevant in the current context. These are not contested issues, nor are they skewed by an active misinformation campaign. As a result, on such issues, many Americans may be ill-informed but liberals and conservatives are nevertheless able to agree.
Exactly. Not just the fact that they were such questions, but that they were such easy questions. When the Right and their media can't seem to catch the Republicans on their gross misunderstandings of basic ideas, like how the separate houses of government are supposed to run, then what the hell are we worried about naming figureheads? Like Wallace attempts to do above, in claiming that Politifacts is skewing facts, in fact, they do. And frequently, and often, and Politifacts is too busy trying to be too soft so as to not be blamed for partisanship to point out the hard facts here. is Fox viewers who are the most likely to believe incorrect things—to fall prey to misinformation. A quintessential example of such an issue is global warming, or whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or was collaborating with Al Qaeda. There are many, many others.
Mostly I praise Think Progress for not particularly blaming Fox:
I carefully noted that these studies do not prove causation (e.g., that watching Fox News causes one to be more misinformed). The causal arrow could very well run the other way—believing wrong things could make one more likely to watch Fox News in the first place.
I am in complete agreement. After all, in argument with these people, I've always found it fascinating that they begin their rebuttal of my corrections to them by saying something similar to, "My mind is made up. You can't change it." And a complete inability to understand just how that destroys their validity of argument when they refuse to hear facts. Thus they turn to the people who tell them what they want to hear. Which is ironic if they consider themselves bible-believing Christians, because:
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3
So if you're thinking Think Progress is blaming Fox, and that their page is skewed towards the Left, I'm sorry to disappoint. TP has done its research with consideration towards such things, not skewing things to get the desired result, and considered the factors that may be deceiving. If anything they've done what is called reliable research, which Wallace will never dare do, nor quote:
Moreover, on such issues, I would expect cable news viewers of all types to be generally better informed than the general public, because such viewers are, by definition, politically engaged—they care about politics. So they are more likely to know the baseline stuff, whatever channel they watch. (Politifact partly acknowledges the criticism here, but still tries to save face.)
That’s precisely what was found in a study of a related type of media: Right wing talk radio. C. Richard Hofstetter of San Diego State and his colleagues found of right wing radio listeners that “despite the flamboyance of many hosts and messages, audiences nevertheless appear to hold higher levels of information in association with involvement with political talk.” And yet at the same time, the researchers also found that “exposure to conservative talk shows was related to increased misinformation, while exposure to moderate political talk shows was related to decreased levels of political misinformation, after controlling for other variables.” In other words, this study found something very similar to what has been repeatedly found about Fox.
Thus, the bulk of the studies cited by Politifact have nothing to do with whether Fox viewers believe the truth, or falsehoods, on politicized and contested issues. I cannot stress how fundamental a distinction this is. Indeed, it is quite literally a separate issue from the perspective of psychology and neuroscience.
And it amazes me, for a party of people who love to try to call anything liberal Orwellian, just how incredibly 1984 this little media game of theirs is, and how there's never actually been a "liberal media" that ever did what they've accused, and then practiced themselves.

All in all, Stewart was right. Absolutely right. And that's not up for opinion-based disagreement. Evolution is factually real, global warming is actually happening, and you people not only cannot pray them away, but they won't become false just because you click to the media that tells you what our itching ears want to hear. Welcome to reality.