Indy Digest: Sept. 12, 2022
When I saw the headline, I just sighed: “Americans think they know a lot about politics—and it’s bad for democracy that they’re so often wrong in their confidence.”
I sighed for two reasons: 1. The headline reflects what I’ve personally experienced while doing this job. 2. It’s depressing as hell.
The article, from The Conversation, was written by Ian Anson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s the gist of it (and the embedded links are his):
Over the past five years, I have studied the phenomenon of what I call “political overconfidence.” My work, in tandem with other researchers’ studies, reveals the ways it thwarts democratic politics.
Political overconfidence can make people more defensive of factually wrong beliefs about politics. It also causes Americans to underestimate the political skill of their peers. And those who believe themselves to be political experts often dismiss the guidance of real experts.
Political overconfidence also interacts with political partisanship, making partisans less willing to listen to peers across the aisle.
The result is a breakdown in the ability to learn from one another about political issues and events.
Anson explains that he did a survey of Americans, asking them basic questions about American politics. “In the experiment, some respondents were shown a series of statements that taught them to avoid common political falsehoods,” he explained. “For instance, one statement explained that while many people believe that Social Security will soon run out of money, the reality is less dire than it seems. My hypothesis was that most people would learn from the statements, and become more wary of repeating common political falsehoods.”
Alas, Anson explains, his hypothesis was wrong:
Of the 1,209 people who participated, around 70% were overconfident about their knowledge of politics. But this basic pattern was not the most worrying part of the results.
The overconfident respondents failed to change their attitudes in response to my warnings about political falsehoods. My investigation showed that they did read the statements, and could report details about what they said. But their attitudes toward falsehoods remained inflexible, likely because they—wrongly—considered themselves political experts.
Anson tries to conclude in a positive way by suggesting that “social media companies and opinion leaders could seek ways to promote discourse that emphasizes humility and self-correction,” and cites a new Twitter “pop-up message that asks would-be posters of news articles to ‘read before tweeting’” as a possible success.
Misinformation is one of the largest problems we’re facing in the United States right now—and that misinformation is feeding into another problem, which is extreme political polarization. All of us need to do what we can to make sure our information sources are accurate—and that we’re not making these problems worse by spreading misinformation.
From the Independent
Inspirational Improv: Reggie Watts, Performing at Desert Daze, Blends Comedy and Music in an Influential Way
By Matt King
September 12th, 2022
For years, Reggie Watts has performed as a one man band, going on peculiar tangents and using his voice and a looper pedal to create comedic songs—completely improvised.
Back to the Quick Stop: ‘Clerks III,’ as Expected, Offers Laughs—but It Also Has a Surprising Emotional Depth
By Bob Grimm
September 12th, 2022
In Clerks III, Randal suffers a widowmaker heart attack early in the film—an event that leads to his decision to make a movie about his life.
By Bob Grimm
September 12th, 2022
By using a discombobulated timeline, Barbarian has the viewer constantly guessing about what’s going on.
• The results of the city of Palm Springs’ wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 continue to be all over the place. You can see on the graph below that the Sept. 5 and 6 numbers were down from the week before, but still higher than they were two weeks before. All I can definitively say is this: There’s a lot of COVID-19 out there. The virus may not be as deadly as it once was, but it can still hurt and kill, and at the very least, getting COVID-19 sucks. Get your updated booster shot when you can; mask up if you’d like; and pray, if you’re so inclined, that they day comes when these numbers are much lower.
• This just in out of LA, via a press release: “The Los Angeles Department of Public Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has confirmed the first death due to monkeypox in a Los Angeles County resident. Public Health sends heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one. The resident was severely immunocompromised and had been hospitalized. To protect confidentiality and privacy, additional information on this case will not be made public. Persons severely immunocompromised who suspect they have monkeypox are encouraged to seek medical care and treatment early and remain under the care of a provider during their illness.”
• The dispute between the city of Palm Springs and College of the Desert over the long-delayed west valley campus today reached a whole new level. The Palm Springs Post reports: “Both sides in the battle over the future of a planned College of the Desert campus in Palm Springs traded jabs Monday, with only one thing becoming clearer: taxpayers will continue to be caught in the middle. … At a press conference called Monday morning at the steps of City Hall, Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, flanked by a city attorney and other officials, announced the city has filed a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court against the Desert Community College District Board of Trustees. The city hopes a judge will find College of the Desert (COD) officials violated the state’s public records act by failing to produce documents it has been asking for since last December. … Andrew Jared, the attorney representing Palm Springs in the case, said the city hopes the documents will reveal why COD has delayed breaking ground on the construction of a satellite campus in Palm Springs and why its plans continue to differ from those promised voters in 2004.”
• A possible railroad strike on Friday would have some terrible consequences. CNN explains: “About 60,000 union members who work for the railroad are set to go on strike, including the engineers and conductors who make up the two-person crews on each train. Even though 45,000 other union members belong to unions that have reached tentative deals with the railroads, a strike by engineers and conductors would bring the freight rail system, which carries nearly 30% of the nation’s freight, to a grinding halt. It’s about the last thing the US economy needs as it struggles to get over several years of supply chain issues. A prolonged strike could mean some empty shelves in stores, temporary closures at factories that don’t have the parts they need to operate, and higher prices due to the limited availability of various consumer goods.”
• Borrego Health has filed for bankruptcy in an effort to keep its facilities open after the state threatened to withhold payments. The Desert Sun explains: “The filing is driven by an Aug. 19 notice that said the state intends to reimpose its 100% payment suspension on all Borrego Health Medi-Cal services beginning Sept. 29. The state said it was withdrawing Medi-Cal reimbursements because of ‘continued and unresolved inappropriate billings,’ according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The offices of Borrego Health and Premiere Healthcare, a medical billing company that served it, were raided by the FBI and state investigators in October 2020 as part of a criminal investigation into potential Medicare fraud. Both companies said last year that the criminal case involved a single dental clinic or a few facilities.”
• Oh, hey, the Stagecoach 2023 lineup is out.
• And finally … The Washington Post actually sent out this email earlier today as a “WORLD ALERT”
On behalf of journalists everywhere, I’d like to 1) apologize, 2) emphasize that the vast majority of us in no way think this is worth a WORLD ALERT, and 3) express sincere hopes that the Washington Post employee(s) who decided to send this out as a WORLD ALERT are karmically sentenced to cleaning up corgi poop, or its karmic equivalent, for the rest of their lives.
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