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[flagged] Do you have a yawning Perception Gap, or are you in sync with American public? (perceptiongap.us)
76 points by ozdave 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



Maybe this is just my partisanship, but the misperceptions on the conservative side seem much more egregious than the misperceptions on the liberal side. Liberal misperceptions are of the form of wishy-washy statements such as "racism still exists in America". Of course two different people can say that they agree with this statement while meaning fantastically different things. On the other hand, one of the conservative misperceptions is that the sizable majority of Democrats take the concrete, extreme position of being in favor of completely open borders. I'm a Democrat, and I actually do hold this extreme position. I can tell you the vast majority of Democrats who I've ever talked to disagree with me strongly about this; it doesn't even pass the sniff test. I fail to see any misperception on the Democratic side which is even close to being this severe.


That particular statement stood out at me, juxtaposed right next to the statement that many Muslims are good Americans. At least 10% of respondents believe both that racism is dead and that few Muslims are good Americans!

The “open borders” statement is also interesting. The Republican estimate is almost identical to the estimate for “abolish ICE.” This suggests that many respondents think these two statements are equivalent, a sentiment I’ve seen many times. But of course the idea there is to turn over its functions to another agency or create a new agency. The actual perception gap there is probably a lot larger due to this difference in understanding.

Or consider “Donald Trump is a flawed person.” The listed perception gap for bat one is very small, with both estimate and reality being around 45%. Does that imply that 55% of Republicans think Trump is perfect? The vast majority of Republicans are Christians, and a core tenet of that religion is that Man is inherently flawed. It doesn’t add up. “Flawed” must have a totally different meaning here.

It’s also unfortunate that it doesn’t include each group's estimate of itself. It would give us a much better sense of how significant this gap is if we could see that too.


>At least 10% of respondents believe both that racism is dead and that few Muslims are good Americans!

Muslim isn’t a race.


How did I know someone would make this response.

The sort of person who had an anti-Muslim bias is generally not the sort of person with this level of nuanced understanding of race, culture, and religion.


Because it’s a common point of rhetorical contention? The facts of the matter are settled with proof by definition but the association between Islam and Arabs is a tarpit that’s useful or limiting depending on the team and the point being argued.

I’m simply a fan of speaking as carefully and clearly as possible. I don’t mind linking ideas in a conversation but doing so up front and in the open. Not with a wink and nod that we can intuit “what they really think.” Just look at how much weasel wording you wrote and assumptions made when clarifiying.


For someone who supposedly values clarity, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

To make my own point as clearly as possible: I am certain that people who say Muslims aren’t good Americans are racists and are a disproof of their own statement if they say that racism doesn’t exist in America.

If you have some counterargument to that then please go right ahead.


I suspect the disagreement is one of terminology. Does the definition of racist that you are using extend to both religion and culture?


>I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

I’m trying not to have a dog in the race while commenting on the meta.


On the flipside, why dismiss a fact that completely explains the supposed contradiction?


Because I don’t believe it actually explains it.

I’m not actually an idiot. I know that “Muslim” isn’t a race. Replying with that is the sort of facile dismissal that makes the commenter feel smart but accomplishes nothing besides starting an argument.


I do not believe that Muslims (either in America or otherwise) are bad people or a threat. In fact, my understanding is that because America's Muslim community is generally not disenfranchised it is generally more difficult for Islamist terrorists to radicalize people in America without getting caught than it is in other countries where the Islamic community has suffered greater discrimination.

However in my experience, there are many people who do not believe that people from Muslim majority countries are evil but who do believe that Islam is an innately violent religion. At the same time, I do think it's possible that those beliefs are at least partially influenced by a, perhaps subconscious, fear of "the other".


Is this a nuanced understanding of such sort of persons?


I agree they could pick a better question. It's not interesting to know how many people agree with that statement.

However, it is very interesting that Democrats actually thought that Republicans would not agree with that statement


Perhaps, but there's two ways that this can be interpreted. One is that Democrats have a misperception about Republicans' beliefs on this issue. I'm sure to some extent this is true. The other, though, is that Democrats and Republicans interpret this statement in different ways. So Democrats believe the statement means X, and Republicans believe it means Y. Republicans tend to agree with X and disagree with Y. Democrats may have an accurate view of how Republicans feel about beliefs X and Y, but still underestimate how many Republicans agree with the statement.


Yep. Though I don't think the two ways are incompatible- if one side actually has an accurate understanding of the other side's point of view, they would also understand the different ways in which the question might be interpreted.


Interviewer: "Will Republicans say the sky is blue?"

Democrat: "No."

Republican: "Of course it's blue. It's hot pink, which is a shade of blue."

Democrat: "... wait, what? You think... huh?"

Interviewer: "Looks like the Democrat was wrong!"

Which is true... ish. Truthy.


Not sure where the negative reaction is coming from for this comment. It's a perfect analogy. You can swap Republican and Democrat in every place if you'd like; the problem is the same. It's presented as if we have a predicate like "PARTISAN believes X" and another predicate like "OTHER_PARTISAN estimates that for all PARTISAN P, (P believes X)".

But it's not as clean as this. Because of the messiness of natural language -- which goes double for political language -- there's no guaranteed equality between the two Xs.


Yeah, the main question under discussion here when I made the post seemed to be the racism one, which appears to have played out the way I depicted. The general problem is that it's really, really hard to design complex social science surveys that even maybe measure what you're tying to measure. This one's complex, and I'm pretty sure doesn't measure what they were trying to measure. A big chunk of the two major parties don't even agree on the terms these questions are about, meaning they may well be aware of why their counterparts would answer "yes" where they said they'd say "no", but consider their "yes" to be fundamentally about something else entirely.

I wish they'd included "do democrats support murder" and "do republicans support murder". That'd have been fun. Some would certainly have said yes on either side (abortion, the death penalty) and they'd be right from their point of view, even though "do you support murder?" would have been near-zero on both sides.


Why is it less interesting that about 20% of Republicans do agree with that statement (according to the article), than that Democrats think 50% do?


For what it's worth, I'm in favor of open borders (with customs intact) which would mean no requirement for a visa and unconditional work permits. However, it would have to also be paired with a federal job guarantee. This would help both Americans and exploited people in the global south.

I don't call myself a Democrat though.


As Milton Friedman remarked, full open borders are not compatible with a welfare state (which the "job guarantee" is one example of). To be sure, you can open up a lot compared to the status quo (especially wrt. highly-skilled immigration, which gets pointlessly restricted in most developed countries); but some degree of proper control is likely necessary.


Fwiw, a job guarantee is supposed to be doing useful work. If more people come and we can sustain them environmentally, they'll carry their own weight and more.


Immigrants are known to sacrifice more for future generations i.e. two families in a small house to make ends meet.

I think open borders is a good idea it's humane. I think adding a federal vat or sales tax would help get taxes from those who do come. I think full citizenship should definitely have a build up (state benefits, voting rights, etc), but anyone should be allowed to come/go as they please. A tax on goods purchased would ensure that all who are here would pay.

I think we could even move from income taxes to sales taxes and possibly property taxes (all purchases including business purchases like employee salaries, etc would have the same tax, all investments would have the tax on the initial investment, and the institute receiving the investment would pay a tax on the interest since they are paying that to the recipient before the recipient receives it).

Homes, boats, cars, airplanes, all taxed at purchase. Tax rate would be decidable by congress based on current needs. This would go hand in hand though with guaranteed basic income and ending welfare. Tax rate would burden the lower 1/3rd so GBI would need to be a necessity to offset that and would be adjustable based on housing estimates -- the goal should be to get everyone into a home, and if people are still homeless it's possibly not enough. Though, a home address should also be required within 3 months of receiving GBI to continue receiving it.

Welfare should turn into social workers who are helping the homeless adjust to being non-homeless and ensuring they meet minimal guidelines to receive GBI which is - be living in a home, and not just paying someone to say you live there.

I'm for single-payer but not sure how we'd pay for immigrant coverage, perhaps they'd need to use coverage from their home country of citizenship or buy a plan to be covered? It might be a moot issue if the costs of hospital and drugs go down enough and we end up paying less to cover anyone in the country, but I also think we need to work w/ the world in general to adopt open borders everywhere so the U.S. is not the only place people can/will go.

TLDR; Open borders yes, income tax replaced by VAT/Sales, Single Payer and Guaranteed Basic income are a must for citizens only for VAT to work. Be humane but don't encourage 'leeching', other than having access immigrants would not receive benefits for being here until they're citizens and would pay higher VAT than citizens and greencard holders. I think a job guarantee is unrealistic jobs come and go and there's an entire industry of self-employeed contractors now via UBER / DoorDash / etc that would provide opportunities for newbies to work and support their families.


Consumption based taxes are regressive and spare the wealthy who spend more on financial products, real estate, and businesses than on consumer goods.

If someone is so desperate for medical care that they'll leave their own country to come here, let's just give it to them. We're willing to "share democracy" through trillions in military spending, but this would be purely good thing. There's plenty of money to go around here.


> Liberal misperceptions are of the form of wishy-washy statements such as "racism still exists in America".

> One of the conservative misperceptions is that the sizable majority of Democrats take the concrete, extreme position of being in favor of completely open borders.

This seems like a bit of a strange comparison. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it kind of seems like you are comparing ~the general nature or typical/average of one side's perceptions (giving an example of a typical perception), while comparing that to what I suspect must be a comically hyperbolic example of an extreme (and extremely delusional) perception held by the other side.


I have the same perception but I think this is the folly of countering statistical evidence with anecdote.


It's probably less than ideal to start trying to rank the severity of the misconceptions in a general way, straight out of the gate. I just don't see the point of skipping the nuance and going straight for the partisan circle jerking.


It is like this in many countries: the right accuses the left of something and the left stretches over backwards not to make these claims true (even if they might make sense).

And the bad thing is, that many people believe these things. I had an old friend telling me frantically that we are guarantueed to get sharia law if I vote for any party left of the conservatives.

This stuff is utterly ridiculous


You are providing evidence of your perception of views that people on the right hold by talking about your experience with discussions you've had with people on the left. Have you actually spoken to people on the right to find out whether they believe people on the right hold those perceptions of people on the left?

I think what you would find is that most people on the right feel that most people on the left don't hold the opinion that borders should be open but that politicians and the media in general take that position simply because they are anti-Trump, that Trump has pushed liberal discourse pretty far to the left simply to counter Trump who, they would say, is actually relatively moderate in his policies, though not in his communication.


There are a lot of misconceptions like that on the left side of the spectrum. I know people who won't even visit the state of Mississippi because of the abortion law. Not that they were going to go before but they are definitely lumping millions of people into one very simplified bucket that they don't agree with. There's a lot of viciousness on both sides of the aisle at the moment.

As someone who doesn't identify with either group, both major parties seem equally toxic and rife with misconceptions or deliberate misrepresentations of the other side.


Counterpoint: there's no real reason to visit Mississippi for most people most of the time, and saying "I'm not going to go out of my way to do something I never intended on doing in the first place because political reasons" feels like a political statement.

Consider it an extension of social media activists (e.g. "Repost if you think X should be illegal!!!)


Is that really a counterpoint though? My point is that they're classifying an entire state of people for political reasons and thus are just as bad as the example the OP gave of the right assuming all people on the left want open borders.

They are both painting with overly broad brushes.


Sure. I mean, that's the whole point of the original article (I think? I don't really get it, but I'm also a fan of sociology and good statistics, so I was never going to like this crap).

"People think that people who aren't like them aren't like them in more ways than they actually are!" is...something? Probably not "bad" exactly, but not good either?

And I still don't get how this is a "broad brush"? People don't want to go on vacations to challenge their ideals. They're usually going somewhere to relax or visit something they find interesting. No offense to the state of Mississippi, but it's not known for being a tourist destination. I'm not generally a fan of cancel culture, and the abortion legislation their government passed moved the needle from "0% chance I'll ever visit" to "0% chance I'll ever visit" but I don't think someone is "misinterpreting" something when they decide not to visit somewhere they likely had no intention of visiting before new information was provided to them that opposed their worldview.

TL;dr- This anecdote doesn't help demonstrate anything meaningful to me. In this way, it is very much like the article. Language is very nuanced and often because we don't have infinite time we take linguistic shortcuts that can eliminate some clarity to our meaning/intention. That's all this really seems like.


You need to read my response in the context of replying to the parent. They stated that the right is uniquely bad at broadly painting the views of the left. I gave an example of the left doing the same thing.


I love this angle. There's a lot of room to improve the methodology, but this is getting at the heart of the question of why we are seeing increasingly polarized politics.

With a wide perception gap, we are guaranteed to be framing our opponents' views inaccurately and therefore fighting the wrong battles if movement at a societal level is actually what is desired.

The more politically diverse your direct in-person interactions are, the better your perception gap, and the more likely you are to be able to accurately frame your opponents' arguments when debating with them.


This is quite interesting. One question that springs to mind, though: who exactly are the respondents thinking of when they're asked to estimate? Do they hear "Are (Democrats|Republicans) $SOME_TRAIT?" and think "Is (Nancy Pelosi|Mitch McConnell) $SOME_TRAIT?", or "Is my kid's study buddy's (Democrat|Republican) parent $SOME_TRAIT?" There's always a big difference in how you judge someone you know personally as opposed to a face on the news. This doesn't seem to have been asked, or at least it's not mentioned in the article.


I was thinking that probably played a role as well. The extreme partisans on one side will be exposed to the opinions of the extreme partisans on the other, and ignoring the namecalling for a moment, it would be interesting to see if the extremists are accurate about what the other side's extremists believe.

I don't think that would change very much about this report overall; I'm sure both extremists would still overestimate the size of the extremists groups on both sides quite significantly. But it would be an interesting data point.


I never realized I was in a majority group, but "Exhausted" is exactly how I feel about politics lately. I'm capping my CNN viewing at about ~20 minutes a day.


As someone who is more recently interested in politics, I skip CNN, and actually all cable/televised news, because the coverage is so shallow. If it exhausts you, but you still want to follow it to any degree, I'd recommend getting your politics through cultivated written sources.


That's usually what I do now, but my husband likes to watch CNN or MSNBC at night so there's always some leakage.


That's about 20 minutes too much if you're exhausted by politics in my opinion. Do you get any value out of it? If not, just stop watching.


I'm exhausted because the flow of information far exceeds and even inhibits any effective response. Death by a thousand paper cuts... the many public factions immobilized by each focusing on their most recent and painful cut.


Interesting, I wonder if the width of the perception gap varies significantly by geography.

I'd hypothesize that the perception gap would be smaller in the regions identified here as "more politically tolerant" - https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/03/us-coun... , just due to the fact that living and interacting with people with more varied opinions may make people more in-tune with what members of the opposing political party actually believe.

Would be cool to an analysis of the data to see if that correlation actually holds.


Interesting piece. I would quibble with one part. At the end they imply that the contention in the country is reconcilable because the extremes do not represent the majority. Now the last time Americans had an irreconcilable difference was the Civil War. We do not have good statistics from that time but there is some evidence that the extreme positions (i.e. abolition vs. pan-American slavery) were not held by a majority of the people in the country. One example I'll give is that even after the South withdrew from the U.S. House and Senate, those bodies still struggled to pass legislation freeing and or assisting black Americans. This indicates to me that not even the majority of the new Republican party was radical abolitionist.

I guess my point is that just because the extremes are confused about how America feels, that doesn't mean they aren't driving us towards irreconcilable conflict.

Now, I'm not one of those that thinks an intra-American conflict is forthcoming. But I would guess that if you modeled various internal conflicts throughout the history of nations, you wouldn't find many where roughly half the population stood solidly behind one idea and the half stood firmly behind another. I think in most you'd actually find something a lot like this. Two outlying groups driving the discourse against each other and a constituency of allies on each side that can't break away for various reasons.


> One example I'll give is that even after the South withdrew from the U.S. House and Senate, those bodies still struggled to pass legislation freeing and or assisting black Americans. This indicates to me that not even the majority of the new Republican party was radical abolitionist.

Many assuredly weren't abolitionists, at least not as a matter of policy. The Corwin Amendment [1] was even passed by the 2/3 majority in the remaining senate and ratified by some northern states. Don't forget, Maryland was a slave state and fought on the side of the north.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corwin_Amendment


"Properly controlled immigration can be good for America" is a meaningless question. Of course Democrats would think Republicans would be opposed to this idea. The idea of "proper control" is the whole debate! We have republicans who feel that building a wall is part of properly controlling things and democrats who think it's a moral outrage. Several of these questions are phrased so as to make them non-partisan and in doing so create a "bad people on both sides" effect. Vague statements like this create bad sociology my friends!

This isn't about a perception gap. It's about not putting together very good polling questions and then drawing some conclusions based on them.


Not directly what the article is talking about, but I feel like this is related:

I recently spoke to a man who used to work for the Republican party. He felt that politics is so polarized because the two parties aren't even talking about the same things. The example he gave is that it's not possible for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on racial inequality, because the Republican party simply doesn't have that as part of their platform.


Yeah, that's a particularly tough one because the most obvious laws about racial inequality (equal access to housing, jobs, education) were passed a while ago.

Today if you want to address racial inequality via legislation, that means police reform and drug policy. When you talk about those subjects to someone who isn't either directly affected by them or well-educated about them, they don't seem on their face to be related to racial inequality.

Only recently do you see republicans starting to talk (a little) about drug policy changes now that opioid abuse has started becoming a huge problem in some white communities. Video camera footage of police abuse may also help eventually bring republicans in on that problem - but that is dependent on cops having working cameras, not turning them off, and the people watching the video actually having empathy for the people being abused. Maybe if cops started harassing vocal 2nd amendment advocates their tune would change.


I wonder if there's definitional confusion underlying this?

I rarely see discussion of the gaps that hide under an umbrella like <party/ideology>-ans. Are we talking about candidates and office-holders? Party officials and operatives? Openly-affiliated pundits? Activists? People otherwise not on the playing field who happen to vote for or be registered as party-affiliated? Abstract stereotypes projected by partisan media?

In practice, these groups may be largely distinct, and questions referencing them can easily smuggle a lot of assumptions in. I would be surprised if highly disengaged voters and highly engaged ones aren't talking about different things when they tell you what they think <X>-ans think, so you'd expect a delta.


There's also a lot of dogma/orthodoxy that elected <X>-ans have to at least pay lip-service to, which might exacerbate perceived gaps on issues that are often in the talking points/propaganda efforts/purity tests.

Aside from nailing down who the questions mean, it might be interesting to see how well respondents can imagine what partisans think about obscure concrete issues.


I think this "study" is crap. On one side, you have armed terrorists threatening a state legislature, and on the other side you have... what?

The gap isn't in perception, it's in civilized behavior.


Overall, I think this is a very interesting article and raises some good points. I did have some questions though.

Why are "Traditional Liberals" part of the "Exhausted Majority", but "Traditional Conservatives" part of the "Wings"? This is particularly confusing to me because the latter is the second largest of all groups.

In fact, if I'm reading their chart correct, they seem to be claiming that anyone who identifies as "conservative" is part of the "wing"...


I think as the Overton Window has shifted leftwards, a lot of conservative values are landing at the fringes. At a micro level, I see a lot of people who identify as conservative, but have very progressive ideas about gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc.


It sounds as though they derived the definition of "wing" from the perception gap measurement. I think calling everyone who is not in [that definition of] a wing "exhausted" is confusing.


That doesn't match the graph shown, in which traditional conservatives have a slightly smaller perception gap than traditional liberals.

The tribes come from another report from the same people, which says "[Traditional conservatives] are included as a wing segment because they are much closer in characteristics to the Devoted Conservatives than to the Exhausted Majority." I'll admit I've only skimmed the graphs (it's 110 pages long), but I'm not sure their data shows that clearly.

https://hiddentribes.us/pdf/hidden_tribes_report.pdf


I will add that in their methodology they asked the questions without asking for political self-identification, then grouped responders by answers and labeled the groups themselves. There is a consistent and significant response shift when going from traditional conservative to moderate, which I think correctly identifies the groups.


It's not the tribes people are questioning here, but the categorization of traditional conservatives as a "wing" and traditional liberals as "exhausted majority".

Looking at a few more of their charts, I think I can see the case for it. On social issues, the gap between traditional conservatives and moderates is large, and the gap between traditional conservatives and devoted conservatives is quite small. On the other hand, the gap between traditional conservatives and moderates is large, while the gap between traditional liberals and passive liberals is much smaller.


Fair enough. I took this as questioning the tribe labels: "they seem to be claiming that anyone who identifies as 'conservative' is part of the 'wing'..."


I would argue that "traditional" conservatism has been pushed to the outskirts of the current Republican party, in a way that isn't (currently) matched in the Democratic party. Folks like George Will, for example. https://reason.com/2016/06/25/george-will-leaves-the-republi...


Hmm.

My feelings on this are kind of muddled, mostly due to my own biases. I'm very much a libertarian (technically, an anarcho-capitalist) but feel much more affinity for the GOP than the Democrats. Objectively, I share about the same amount with each party but I have lived the vast majority of my life in very conservative communities.

One of the things I didn't mention that bothered me about the article was that it excluded pretty much all of the minority factions in American politics, such as libertarians. I thought that the article was about Democrat vs. Republican, so that sorta made sense... but reading the hiddentribes.us site that it references, now I'm not so sure. Their categorization seems forced to me.


Agreed. Where's my Grey Tribe at?

Also would have been nice to see what Dems and Reps think of independents: are they viewed as centrist wafflers or unmoored radicals?


Libertarians fall under Classical Liberals.


I am extremely out sync. I ride my bike every day right through the heart of alleged MS-13 territory. The American public thinks I've been shot into Swiss cheese by now.


Thoughts and prayers!


Very helpful!


I thought I was having a stroke looking at that title until I realized that "yawning" also means "wide."


The fact that they count Breitbart, and Redstate as 'news sources' skews the study a bit. Of course people who read that crap are going to have a larger perception gap. Even Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed skew more to the left. That's their reader-base, they are going to tailor pieces to keep the readers they have who lean progressive.

I think they should've kept news sources to only nbc/cbs/cnn/cnbc/abc/hn as those are really the most conservative (not meaning GOP but 'reserved') news agencies that tend to (at least try to appear) non biased. Fox is definitely biased right, and MSNBC (which is what I watch) I agree skews left of center.

I think if we brought back the Fairness doctrine that would help a lot but I don't know if we could enforce that on the internet or if we should. I'm a social democrat (not for full socialism, for social democracy like Denmark/France/Germany), but I can definitely see the perception gap for what it is, and it's causes. Our media system is broken. It's a propaganda machine that is controlled by multiple parties with no middle ground. A fairness doctrine would at least allow all sides of an issue to be represented and temper the propaganda machines.

There are billionaires and Super PACS on both sides that are working to divide us. In fact there's some albeit conspiracy-sounding theories that the elite want us divided by fringe issues like abortion/gun control/immigration so we don't band together on worker rights, labor unions, healthcare, etc that would force them to funnel money at the bottom and switch from trickle down to trickle up economy. As long as we're hating each other and have these misperceptions and polarizations we're easy sheep to control.


Some of these "perception gaps" may be definitional.

For example, the "racism still exists in America" question. A right-wing person may say "racism exists, but it targets white people now". A left-wing person might see that as a denial of racism's existence. You'd get a fundamental disagreement on what the answer meant.


Absolutely. I don't see any of this in their analysis of the results.


All this thing is telling me is anyone who is a self-defined member of a party, no matter if it is Democrat, Republican, Liberal, or whatever, hold "extreme views", where that is defined as being a grittier bolder version of reality; to put it bluntly, this thing tells me that people who are "into" politics are trolls, and should be avoided, no matter which party they subscribe to.

I mean, it calls itself "The Perception Gap", except there really isn't any such thing by the way they describe it: half the things they ask about are factual things (such as the second amendment (it doesn't matter if you personally think we shouldn't bare arms, it is in the Constitution on how and when to do so), or America being a socialist country (FDR made America adopt many Socialist ideals, forming a hybrid of modern Socialism and our existing Democratic Republic, to fill the gaps in one with the other)); the other half are just polarizing issues that are complex, nuanced, and not something you merely can ask on a simple questionnaire.

The whole article says things that are true, but tries to build a narrative around those things that doesn't quite function. For it to be effective, imo, it should just straight out claim people don't like the truth, don't like the reality they live in, and have chosen to ignore it or recontextualize it into something more palatable instead of accepting it: reality is still real, even when you don't believe in it.

The truth is: our politics are shaped by people who live in pure fantasy, they are allowed to vote, even though they aren't even capable of understanding what they are voting on, or what the outcome will actually mean (ex: Trump protest votes helped get Trump elected, even though the people making the protest votes readily admitted Trump was a bad candidate and would not make a good President), and the article just dances around the issue instead of nailing it.


This falls right in line with the concept of cognitive dissonance [1].

In short, people want the world to fit their narrative, not the other way around.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance


How is this cognitive dissonance? The people being surveyed aren't holding conflicting opinions within themselves.


The cognitive dissonance I have observed is in real-world observations vs other data (social media, news, etc). Basically, if you follow the news frequently, you'd be inclined to think the world was on fire because that's what gets the clicks. But if you observe the world around you, talk to real-world people of differing political opinions, you will find that everything is relatively tame compared to the picture people are inclined to paint.


If 30% of a population holds a view, it shouldn't be described as "extreme".


30% of the population holding extreme views isn't the same as any particular view being held by 30% and considered "extreme". They don't go into exactly what this figure means, but at the least we can imagine 15% of Americans holding one extreme and 15% holding the opposite extreme. Or even more credibly, it could mean that 30% of people hold at least one "extreme" view, but each individual "extreme" view is only held by 1-2%.


I believe the graphic just says that 30% hold some view that is extreme, not that 30% believe the same extreme thing.


Disregarding the article's intent with that statistic entirely...

A) a "population" can be 1 person, a random demographic, a continent, or a fringe religious group. It just means a mathematical set of people.

B) while one could argue for or against universal moral truths until they're blue in the face, from a practical standpoint there are absolutely views that large populations believe in that are objectively abhorrent. FGM, killing people for their religion, torturing immigrant children, etc.


Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy in Illinois [1]

1. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/elections/ct-met-ill...


It’s really important to understand that ideology does not arise in a vacuum; it is an expression of one’s material conditions. For example if you tell me you believe that taxation is theft and the free market will solve your problems, I can reasonably guess that you are the owner of some business for whom labor is just a cost and taxation to support public goods is going to cost you more than it benefits you. That includes everyone from corporate interests down to small business owners. The rest of the republican base is those who can be induced to be allies of the above on the basis of race. Keep that in mind and all their ideological positions suddenly make sense. They’re just looking out for number one. Even the immigration stuff; labor is at a disadvantage when capital can move freely but labor is stuck.

This is also the reason that the extreme right has often had corporate sponsorship at key moments in history.


>>I can reasonably guess that you are the owner of some business for whom labor is just a cost and taxation to support public goods is going to cost you more than it benefits you. That includes everyone from corporate interests down to small business owners. The rest of the republican base is those who can be induced to be allies of the above on the basis of race.<<

Frankly, this is just an example of the type of polarization the article describes. "If you support some X that I oppose, it is not because you have a principled reason for believing it to be beneficial, but rather because you are racist/sexist/etc."


Sorry but I think you’re terribly naive. Almost as if you believe that the reason big tobacco tried to deny that cigarettes caused cancer was on principle. Don’t make me laugh, it’s pure self interest all the way. Not even racism or sexism since that’s just a way to divide and conquer the enemies of corporate interests. No, it’s about something far more prosaic- money and power. Simple as that.

The right- or at least the portion with all the money and influence to control their narrative- is absolutely not making their case on a good faith basis. Why attack Iraq? Money and power. Why run anti-union campaigns? Money and power. Why insist that health care for everyone is impossible? Money and power. I mean just make the absolute worst assumptions about why they do anything and suddenly the world makes a lot more sense.


I agree with you except on a small point - I don't think restricting labor movement is particularly beneficial to capital - but I don't see much relevance to the article.


I felt that the article was trying to paper over genuine conflicts by making them just look like thinly held opinions. The message is: don’t fight, it’s not a real difference, it’s just slightly different ideas. That’s just false- a hen can’t be allies with a fox. If people are going to fight for themselves they have to know who their enemies are and why those people are their enemies.

To make the point even more explicit- who do you suppose funds More In Common, and why do you suppose they do that?


The message of the article is _we are not enemies_ not "don't fight."

Fellow Americans should be able to disagree and settle the conflict with elections. Enemies wish for each other's destruction, and while it may be how you feel, it is not the right frame of mind to take when attempting exchange of ideas on policy.


See now, that right there is why liberals consistently lose and never learn from it. The right knows they’re at war, and they act accordingly, and the socialist left does too, but nobody listens to them, and then you have all these centrist liberals who think it’s a high school debate club or something. This is win or die stuff man. If the enemy acts like it’s a war and you don’t, you’re going to lose, every time.


Sigh. I'm a conservative.

It shouldn't be a war. It should be a philosophical disagreement between brothers and sisters.


Look: I was a conservative when I was a teenager and hadn’t gone out to see the real world yet. But at some point you go out and the ideal collides with the reality and you have to face what those ideas really mean.

I say what I say out of a desire to influence people; I want to influence people out of a desire to make the world better. I have two kids- I don’t want them to be drafted in a war, or go hungry because of climate change. But if the conservatives get their way, that’s what will happen to them. I’ve been in city Council meetings advocating for paid sick leave for local working people. On my side was the vast majority of citizens, together with organized labor, on the other side was the chamber of commerce. The testimony was 20 to 1 in favor. But we lost, because the young lawyer in the expensive suit from the Chamber stood up and reminded the city Council members of who funded their election campaigns. And by defeating paid sick leave, they force people to work preparing food when they have the flu, they force people to choose between watching their sick kids or losing their jobs. I was once a fast food worker and my boss wouldn’t let me go home even though I was barfing in a trash can behind the fryolator. An experience like that changes you. But you know, the Chamber won, and they saved the business owners of the city a lot of money.

Look, your side wants a war with Iran that will necessitate the return of the draft; to do nothing about climate change which is rolling the dice on civilization itself; and to literally put children in cages (while making substantial profit for doing it). I’m sorry but you’re not my brother or sister if you support that kind of violence.


To the point about capital mobility, I was just making a point about the phenomenon where Jeff bezos will come into town and demand millions of dollars in subsidies or else he’ll take his warehouse elsewhere. He can do that because capital is mobile and people are not.

The same phenomenon applies in a different way to Mexico; you want to move your factories to where labor is cheap. But if all those Mexicans can just leave, it defeats the purpose of moving your plant to Mexico.


These questions are meaningless. Seriously? They asked a question like "Does racism still exist in America?" and thought many people were going to say no?

Democrats and Republicans both agree there are problems. The difference is in their solutions. If you ask a facile question like "Is homelessness bad" of course both sides will agree. The difference is that the Republican solution is criminalizing homelessness and other things that treat the symptoms, or handwaving it away and "letting the free market fix it." That doesn't even get into all the ways Republicans repeatedly will defund and undermine any government program, no matter how well they're working. (They're trying to cut SNAP for fucks sake. Over 40% of SNAP recipients are children!) Meanwhile Democrats will make mistakes and get caught in bureaucracy but at least actually make an effort at attacking the cause.

Even if you virulently disagree with me on my characterization of the two parties, you have to agree that the linked article is meaningless. The fact that "both sides agree" on the problems means nothing if one side's solutions aren't fact-based.


> and thought many people were going to say no?

Apparently, many Democrats thought Republicans would say no. That's what's being measured.


But that is because, for example, many republicans (7/10?)[0] think that the democrats are racist but they are more likely to consider democrats discriminating against whites. A republican is more likely to say that sexism exists, but against men, rather than women. A republican is more likely to say that climate change exists, but isn't anthropogenic -- which is tantamount to climate change denial. The definition of what "properly controlled immigration" means is also unclear; for a republican it may be more likely to mean only let white people in or to reject all muslims. To be clear I'm not saying that all republicans believe these things, it's only that there is at the very least an extremely vocal group of people on the right who would answer these questions in the same way as someone on the left, but for vastly different reasons.

The definitions of what these words actually mean are in dispute between the two groups. Someone on the left may be answering the question as "what do they actually believe, regardless of how they would answer the question." I know that's how I'd reply to a survey like this. I certainly wouldn't have in the moment considered if they would have a warped view of the words.

>[0] https://perceptiongap.us/media/w5xgckq3/fig7d.png (Am I mischaracterizing this graph with respect to racism?)

side note, I fall into the post-doc group who would say that my colleagues and friends generally agree with me politically. But from my perspective, it's because we are more united on what the right ways to handle the problems actually are rather than because we are politically isolated. I consider myself a libertarian, but I generally vote blue; I've got friends who disagree with my general ideological stances but who understand that particular policies are better than nothing. I think that the story that this [1] graph is telling is that the more educated you become, the more you realize that only one of two parties in the united states is proposing sane solutions to the problems we face; whereas republicans in general are the ones who have a perception gap. Probably because they're more likely to be misinformed by the media they consume. [2]

[1] https://perceptiongap.us/media/pboj2mgp/fig5c.png

[2] https://perceptiongap.us/media/3aaiax5h/fig4c.png


But remember, the whole point of the question is "What do you think they are going say in response to this question?"

Part of that is correctly interpreting how they are going to understand the question.

If you can't understand how the other side is going to read the question correctly, it's still a fail.


If you're using a blunt instrument to measure a nuanced result, you're going to lose some of your nuance.

If I say "Dogs are members of Canis familiaris" and someone else says "no, those are wolves" and a 3rd person asks me "How likely is that guy to know what Canis familiaris is" based on me asking him the question "Do you know what Canis familiaris is?" I'm going to get the answer wrong 100% of the time, because of my "perception" of things.

This is meaningless however, because some facts are facts, and not everything is "shades of gray". Also vice versa.

Saying "there's a perception gap" when two people aren't even having the same conversation doesn't feel like the blame should be on either person. In this case, the observer who's trying to draw a conclusion is drawing a pointless conclusion/asking trap questions.


"Democrats and Republicans both agree there are problems."

That's a meaningless statement - everyone everywhere agrees there are problems!

The all-important fact is that people on either side disagree about what the problems even are. So the difference is not in the solutions, but rather in the entire idea of what needs to be solved in the first place.


I can agree when the problems brought up are phrased reasonably, but to ask questions like "does racism still exist" is just going to get you meaningless data.

I dunno. The linked article seems like p hacking to me.


>The difference is that the Republican solution is criminalizing homelessness and other things that treat the symptoms, or handwaving it away and "letting the free market fix it.

Not a Republican, but it's almost like the article created a living caricature of the phenomenon it was describing.


Show me a real, evidence and facts based solution to homelessness that Republicans have come up with and I'll edit it into my comment and remove that part.


Utah versus California and it’s not even close


Roughly 20% of Republicans said no, so there's that.

Surveyed Democrats guessed that almost 50% would, and even self-identified Independents guessed that roughly 40% would.


It just doesn't seem like a useful metric to me. Even if we agree that both Democrats and Republicans want to, say, end racism... what does that get us? That we both have a basic moral compass?

The problem is the high level interpretation doesn't get us anywhere. The devil is in the details, and Republicans are, for example, fully willing to gerrymander and engage in other forms of voter suppression that affect minorities disproportionately. The fact that they say one thing and do another shows they don't really mean what they say, or are so eager to throw away their morals in the pursuit of political expediency that it might as well not matter whether they mean it or not.




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