Sunday, November 06, 2016

Dumbed down

“Look, if I watched Fox News I wouldn’t vote for me either.” So said Barack Obama in a recent interview.

Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen argues here that "Half the nation consistently fails to understand the other half because the US is a nation divided between those who watch the news and those who read it." The conversations on the two different media are starkly different, she says, making it increasingly difficult for those who read news to understand the perspective of those who watch it, and vice versa. Allen believes that the linguistic complexity of TV news is several grades below that of print news. And so Trump, whose speeches are at a fourth-grade level, is quite literally speaking the language of television.

Many Trump supporters also get their news on Facebook and Twitter feeds, stories tailored to their individual interests, friendshio networks, likes and dislikes. They rely on partisan websites that aggregate ideologically compatible stories from a wide range of outlets, few of which can be called objective. 

Obama again: “In our school systems … you start seeing this weird watering-down of scientific fact so that our kids are growing up in an environment … where everything’s contested, that nothing is true, because if it’s on Facebook it all looks the same, and if you’re reading something from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist next to some guy in his underwear writing in his basement... or his mom’s basement... on text, it all looks like it’s equally plausible.”

A worry as Tuesday looms is that some Trump supporters are buying into his prediction that the election will be rigged. Some speak of the probability that vigilante 'election observers' could be on hand at polling stations, some in states where 'open carry' is legal even armed. The photo above would be alarming enough even if the man claiming to speak for 'the people' were not clad in a kilt!

No comments: