One of the biggest problems for humanity

Via un-climate-related readings, I came across this gem (from the victim article of the link):

My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality. I deal in the world as voters believe it is, not as I (or anyone else) thinks it should be. And, I'm far from the only one.

This is from the mouth of one of the Washington Post's political mouthpieces, Chris Cillizza.  Readers here will be more than familiar with the fundamental problems with this attitude.  I just wanted to note that the only two worlds he sees that he could be dealing with are "the world as voters believe it is" and what he "thinks [the world] should be".

What the world actually is, does not even make the list of possibilities.

It is laughable except that many of the issues being decided and discussed through that lens are a matter of life and death for thousands, millions and even 100's of millions.


More like this

Yes, this is one of the most striking aspects of the very bizarre way in which the media has dealt with this story.

By Michael Tobis (not verified) on 11 Feb 2014 #permalink

While I don't condone the concept alluded to and the context may imply otherwise, I don't fault the Cilliza for not mentioning the world as it is. The entire paragraph is written in a normative sense. There's no implication that he doesn't realize that there's the world as it is. He's a political writer dealing with persuasion in the world of entrenched beliefs. He even complements Glenn Kessler's deeper analysis. He's stating his belief in what voters will believe, not on what's true. He makes that very clear, even while tacitly agreeing that Kessler is correct.

What would you expect in a country of reality TV junkies, a country in which a huge number of people salivate in anticipation of the ADVERTISEMENTS to be shown during the Super Bowl and endlessly analyze which was best?

Those who care are getting what they want.

"I don’t fault the Cilliza for not mentioning the world as it is"

What, inundated with morons who consider ignorance as valid an opinion as informed opinion?

Not true.

The moron just yells louder.

"He’s a political writer dealing with persuasion in the world of entrenched beliefs."

No, he's employing an entrenched belief to continue his belief's primacy: AGW is false! He KNOWS IT!!!

"What would you expect in a country of reality TV junkies"

Tell me, you work in marketing, don't you?

Because I've noticed that marketers seem to believe EVERYONE is a moron. Except themselves, of course. An intelligent film that doesn't "Colombo" itself to the conclusion right at the beginning, is not "marketable" because people want "something easy to understand". And trying to stretch those people will merely result in a flop.


Both examples of movies that "marketing" thought would fail because it doesn't cater for the lowest common denominator.

Did well because the "lowest common denominator" occasionally LIKES to be mentally exercised. As long as it's not done to show off the "smarts" of the promoter.

A glaring spotlight on what has happened to political journalism.
When journalists expound on the sizzle without a comment about the steak it's small wonder that the proles unknowingly vote against their own best interests.
The topic is not difficult to explain.
Many whose only reason for working was because of health insurance benefits will be able to retire or find work more suited to their talents. The money now being hoarded to offset health emergencies will be spent, thereby increasing demand and employment.
Two sentences and his column would actually inform the readership of where the beef is instead of how the fumes will be wafted to distract the hungry masses.

By Terence W Moran (not verified) on 11 Feb 2014 #permalink

If the press offered us some alternative to this horserace drivel it would not be an issue. But this IS what journalism does.

By Michael Tobis (not verified) on 11 Feb 2014 #permalink


Did you read it? It has nothing to do with AGW. Non sequitur much?

Nah, I run an engineering firm.


Yup, I read that yesterday. But I contend that those who want more than the horserace drivel find it. There are even outlets that engage in enough insightful self-analysis to run articles on "do we engage too much in pandering to the lowest common denominator or fail in our mission by engaging in this horserace drivel?" I heard just such a feature the other day on BBC world news for example. Admittedly, you're not likely to see it in Fox News (though I don't partake so I can't say for sure).

The point is not that information is unavailable for those that seek it out. The point is that those who are too busy to seek out more than a little news get lunacy packaged as news.

What's on the front page, what's on the evening news, what's in the glossy newsmagazine in the dentist's office?

It appears that journalists are actually incapable of distinguishing between two million jobs lost and two million vacancies opening up.

I mean, Cokie Roberts is supposed to be one of the smarter ones.

By Michael Tobis (not verified) on 12 Feb 2014 #permalink


Did you read it? It has nothing to do with AGW. Non sequitur much? "

Robbie, do you know what "analogy" means and what "analogous situation" implies?

Get a grown up to read you a dictionary.

I cannot help but wonder what knowledgeable people are to do when a species like Homo sapiens is confronted with a colossal planetary emergency that it appears to have induced. Do human beings not have an original, overarching obligation or perhaps an absolute duty to warn of such a dire situation? What honor should be bestowed on first rank scientists and other esteemed professionals in possession of well-established science who pose as if they "see no truth, hear no truth and speak no truth" regarding known causes of the clear and present danger while mainstreamed, false (preternatural, pseudoscientific) knowledge is deliberately allowed to stand unchallenged as if it represented the best available science?

By Steven Earl Salmony (not verified) on 12 Feb 2014 #permalink

Power concentration is the problem. Gullibility evens out overall in the main.

But if you're powerful, you are innured from the consequences of externalities. See gated communities. If you're powerful, then you'll lose most in a fair game. therefore the "rational" (i.e. psychopathic antisocial) choice is to deny any problem or at least delay any change and then if change must happen, have the burden on "everyone else, where it belongs".

And if you're powerful, you have ample resources to peddle your screed.

@ wow:

I hated for it to come to this. But I'm not in marketing and have no opinion on whether it is believed (presumably universally as you see it) by marketers but, speaking for myself, I don't believe that everyone is a moron. I do, however, believe that there is a subset of the population that consists of morons and I see that you are a member of that subset.

@mt: While it may be true that one has to dig to find reliable information, that's a symptom of what people want. If "they" (the class of people presumably including Wow) demanded more fact based information, it would be provided. I don't think very many are deluded into thinking that articles in the nature of that written by Cillizza are talking about the world as it is (though maybe he IS discussing the meta-world as it is). So, what you see as a cause, I see as a symptom.

"I hated for it to come to this"

Then why did you start it on this trajectory, Robbie?

Indeed if you hate to do it, there must be some other hate you hate more going on to make it get here.

And if that's the case, then, hey, maybe there's something *I* hate. After all, other people are independent thinkers and not mindless automatons with you as the "only real human".

speaking for myself, I don’t believe that everyone is a moron

Then your statement in your opener's last two paragraphs was complete bollocks, so why the hell did you make it?


I stated certain things with respect to how I viewed the cited article. You responded with an irrelevant comment. I pointed out its irrelevance. You rationalized it and threw out a gratuitous insult. Now you tap dance around it.

As to the second paragraph of my original post, as I stated subsequently, there's a subset of the population whose elements are morons. You and I might even agree on that. I mentioned a "huge number" but certainly didn't indicate that it was the entire population.

In any case, you'll note that I haven't insulted you here, and won't, it's not fair to the blog owner. So, back on topic, Cillizza discusses politics in terms of gaming strategy and interprets the news through that lens, rather than taking a position on whether that's the way it "should be." Politics as a sport. It's clearly offensive to some, those people should ignore it.

My claim is that any misinterpretation of his paradigm is the fault of the reader, not the writer. He states what he's doing with complete clarity. Take it or leave it. Those who want a different paradigm will have no trouble finding it.

"I stated certain things with respect to how I viewed the cited article"

And I stated certain things with respect to how I viewed your view.

Apparently your view is that only you're allowed to do that.