American Politics And The Denial Of Reality

It's no wonder partisans can't agree with each other when they can't even agree what the facts are.

Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith makes some excellent points about the denial of reality on the right exemplified by things such as the Poll Denialists and those people alleging some kind of conspiracy behind Friday’s jobs report:

There is a vast and longstanding political science literature devoted to explaining the human propensity to fit opinion and even fact to partisan convenience — support for a war, for instance, tends to flip when a new party takes the White House — but many of the political scientists who study just this say they’ve never seen it the gap this wide.

“It’s different today than the Whigs and the Tories fighting it out a couple hundred years ago — and it’s even different from the 50s or 60s — because today we have a hyper-partisan media,” said Paul Kellstedt, an associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University, who has argued that standard measures of economic confidence fail to take into account the partisan skew.

“When people watch only Fox News, or only MSNBC, their minds are thrown into this preferred-world state,” he said. “The accuracy motive fades a bit.”

“When we encounter information that is inconvenient or disagreeable, we find ways to explain it away. We can do that with statistics almost as well as we can with any other type of information,” said John Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and co-founder of the blog The Monkey Cage. “Now we have partisan news and partisan leaders to do that work for you. If you don’t want to believe that Romney is losing, you go to UnskewedPolls.com, and it will tell you that he’s not. “

On some level, I suppose, reactions like this are understandable from a psychological point of view. Once you become heavily invested in a particular candidate, campaign, or political party, any bad news becomes not just a byline at The New York Times, but an attack on your worldview and an argument that what you’ve been investing yourself in is doomed to failure. As someone who has actually worked on campaigns in his time, I can attest to the fact that this kind of tunnel vision does happen, especially among volunteers who are essentially dedicating a significant portion of their time to a candidate. Bad news is seen as an attack, not as a data point, and the phrase “don’t blame the messenger” gets lost in the heat of partisanship. Now that we live in an era of 365/24/7 “news” coverage, supplemented by the Internet, those emotions get spread out among a wider and wider segment of the public. Add into that the fact that, more so than ever before, partisans can choose to receive their information only from sources friendly to their point of view, and it’s easy to understand why facts have suddenly become a partisan issue.

As Smith points out, this isn’t a problem confined to only one party:

More of the 2012 cycle’s descents into fantasyland — the unskewing of polls and BLS paranoia most obvious among them — have featured Republicans than Democrats, prompting some on the left to argue that American conservatives have a particular hostility to reality. And certainly, the conservative movement has long nourished more skepticism of the mainstream media and of some forms of government authority than has the left.

But there’s probably a simpler explanation for at least some of this: Mitt Romney has spent most of the year losing, and so the Republicans are the ones feeling compelled to re-imagine the polls. That Democrats share, at least, the impulse became clear Wednesday night when a CNN snap poll showed Romney winning overwhelmingly. The liberal twittersphere erupted with skepticism over a sample that, an easy misread suggested, was tilted toward Southern Whites. The progressive news site TalkingPointsMemo shared, then retracted, those doubts; others, like the enduring liberal blog Hullaballoo, which declared the poll “malpractice,” didn’t correct, and the episode prompted a wave of glee among conservatives who had watched the previous round of unskewing with some embarrassment.

Smith is correct, and it’s quite obvious that the left is as capable of creating its own version of reality as the right is. However, there’s no denying that, in recent years, it has been conservatives who have invested themselves in a version of reality that simply doesn’t comport with the facts. The most extreme example of this, of course, has been the birthers who insisted, despite all of the available evidence, that the President was either not born in the United States at all or, because of some obscure legal theory, didn’t qualify as a “natural born citizen.” Close to that, of course, is the idea that President Obama is some kind ‘of “secret Muslim” who smokes cigarettes and has been photographed on numerous occasions drinking alcoholic beverages. That’s just the fringe, though. Mainstream conservatives have adopted the bizarre argument pushed by Dinesh D’Souza that the President is some kind of “Kenyan anti-colonialist.” The nominee of the Republican Party has claimedfalsely, that the President has spent his Presidency going around the world apologizing for America. And, of course, there are the continued assertions that the President is a Marxist and such. It’s all really quite insane.

In reality, I don’t think that there’s anything substantively different about today that wasn’t true in the past. It’s not like there was ever a time when Americans agreed about everything, or even accepted the same premises when entering into a political argument. Just go back and look at the political dialogue in advance of the Election of 1800, or the Jacksonian years, or, most extremely, the Civil War Era and the decades that led up to it. There have been plenty of times when Americans have been at loggerheads to such an extent that they could not even agree what reality was. The difference this time, of course, is that there’s much more of an ability for people to interact across long distances, and we’re living in a world where technology demands instant reactions to even the most complex political developments.

Much of this, of course, is a reflection of the hyperpartisan political culture we now live in, a culture that is reinforced by a media world where people can choose where they get their facts from based on what their political preferences are. If you’re a conservative, you watch Fox News Channel and get their “fair and balanced” approach which typically just revolves around standard right wing talking points and an emphasis on stories that really don’t matter. If you’re of the left, you watch MSNBC, or maybe even Al Gore’s silly little Current TV venture, which revolves around an increasingly left wing biased view of politics that makes watching anything beyond Morning Joe and The Daily Rundown unbearable for those of us who would like some news without the political spin. The other cable “news” network, CNN, has fallen so far from the lofty days when it was a news pioneer that it isn’t even funny anymore. There’s nothing wrong with being exposed to multiple points of view, I try to do that on a regular basis, but when the American people start segregating themselves into political camps that get their “facts” from completely different sources with completely different sources, one has to wonder how it’s even possible for us to agree about anything.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    A better example of liberals engaging in this behavior would be the “we really won in 2004” stuff which was preceded by “Gallup has the wrong party ID weighting in its polls.”

    The CNN instant poll was somewhat skewed due to its timeframe–the percentage of the population willing to take two surveys 2-3 hours apart on a Wednesday evening is pretty small, The biggest tell was that BEFORE the debate this group viewed Romney 54-42 positive/negative–which was by far outside the range of every other national poll conducted up until that point.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Bad news is seen as an attack, not as a data point, and the phrase “don’t blame the messenger” gets lost in the heat of partisanship.

    Ah, so “both sides do it”…

    Democrats have been brutally frank about Obama’s poor debate performance and it’s impact on the election. Republicans have brought us poll denial and labor stat denial.

    Another false equivalence du jour.

  3. john personna says:

    This started out as a sound piece, but it degraded to a “both sides do it” for no good purpose.

    Or, to put my complaint in the structure of the piece, to say that liberals also reject reality, you should show where they reject reality, in specifics. It is not sufficient to suggest that some of them watch MSNBC, and that is the same thing.

    (I believe some OTB authors watch Morning Joe, does that put them in liberal denial?)

  4. legion says:

    Doug, this is absolutely _not_ a case of “both sides do it”. Yes, there are some individuals on the left who aren’t carrying a full box of cookies, but there is simply no comparison to this systemic, institutional, and willful self-delusion on the right as a whole. We don’t make Birthers or Tea Partiers our front-line speakers. We don’t call non-whites in the other party “lazy” or “articulate”. We don’t throw out the facts for our own egos’ sake.

    Politicians, of either party, are largely the same. But the _leaders_ of the modern Republican party are a different breed. They accuse everyone who disagrees with them of lying, cheating, and conspiring because they themselves are liars – they do these things and assume everyone else does too. They truly believe you can’t win anything unless you cheat, and nothing is more important than winning.

  5. john personna says:

    Seriously, the right is bound to two big rejections of physical evidence:

    – evolution

    – climate change

    As I’ve said, I think those set the form. A group that rejects those can reject any number of other things. Rejecting Obama’s citizenship was not a great hurdle for them. They already dislike scientists, elites, city slickers. Polls? Pfft. That’s easy.

    Show me the big cornerstone denials on the left that make them similarly unrooted from evidentiary analysis.

  6. Geek, Esq. says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of which side ideologically is more prone to believe reality, but rather that the side on the wrong side of historical trends retreats into fantasy. If Republicans really felt like they were ascendant, they wouldn’t engage in these stupid rationalizations.

    It’s a game played by losers.

  7. Brett says:

    No one has called Barack Obama a hermaphrodite planning to marry off his daughters to the sons of the King of Saudi Arabia, so we’re not quite as bad as the rhetoric in the Adams-Jefferson election . . . yet.

  8. steve says:

    While we have more hyper-paprtisan media, we also have more direct access to the information used to form opinions. I find it sad that people do not avail themselves of those resources. You can look up the numbers for yourself to see if tax cuts lead to more jobs and increased GDP. You can look at what happens when the capital gains rates are changed. It’s not that hard to do, and more people need to do it.

    Steve

  9. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “That Democrats share, at least, the impulse became clear Wednesday night when a CNN snap poll showed Romney winning overwhelmingly. The liberal twittersphere erupted with skepticism over a sample that, an easy misread suggested, was tilted toward Southern Whites.”

    So, expressing skepticism about a new piece of data is the same as ignoring reams of data in your mind. Good to know.

  10. Moosebreath,

    You’re aware that’s a quote from Ben Smith’s piece and not my writing, right?

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, in this day and age politics without reality denial would be like coffee without cream. All part and parcel of the big slide.

    P.S. — I actually laughed out loud when I saw the reference to the right denying reality. Not that the right doesn’t do that. They do. But FYI the left for decades has been denying reality. From “the war on poverty,” to Chicago ’68 and its aftermath, to McGovern, to lines for gasoline, to the Torricelli principle, of course to BDS and the 00’s, to last Wednesday, and numerous places and faces in between, the left’s cognitive dissonance has been epic in scope. Plus all you have to do literally to see the left’s reality denial in action, and its ripple effects, is to stroll around the projects in any big liberal city. Why are conditions there still basically as depressed as they were decades ago? Connect the dots.

  12. jan says:

    Bad news is seen as an attack, not as a data point,

    Well then I guess the following will be seen as an attack..

    On the subject of ‘lying,’ which this site abundantly throws around onto foes of their ideology….Princeton economist says Obama campaign misrepresenting his study on Romney’s tax plan.

    In other words, one of Obama’s economist asked to analyze Romney’s tax plan paper, Harvey Rosen of Princeton, is refuting and correcting the claims Obama is making about that very plan:

    I can’t tell exactly how the Obama campaign reached that characterization of my work. It might be that they assume that Governor Romney wants to keep the taxes from the Affordable Care Act in place, despite the fact that the Governor has called for its complete repeal. The main conclusion of my study is that under plausible assumptions, a proposal along the lines suggested by Governor Romney can both be revenue neutral and keep the net tax burden on taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 about the same. That is, an increase in the tax burden on lower and middle income individuals is not required in order to make the overall plan revenue neutral.

    Mischaracterization is a frequently used tool by Obama and his minions in order to either fluff up their own agenda, making it (and Obama) look better than they are, or against their opponent’s policies, background and character making them look worse than it is.

    In fact, an increasing number of pundits and debate watchers are saying both candidates showed up. In the case of Mitt Romney, he didn’t have horns, glowing eyes and a tail (as was scripted in Obama’s ads and speeches) , was lucid, knowledgeable, having a vision and framework of ideas people could understand. Obama was there too, except without his soaring rhetoric to distract, creating a ‘shock and awe’ atmosphere (“Oh, he’s so smart!) Consequently, he was left to deal with a weak, if not indefensible, record and no plan for the future, making his performance seem flat, listless with platitudes of hope and change not being enough anymore. People picked up on that….

  13. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Your transition is typical. You agree that the right rejects scientific argument, and then you move on to say that the left disagrees on policy.

    These things are not the same.

  14. john personna says:

    @jan:

    Unfortunately for Gov. Romney, there are many analyses of his tax plan, and none of them can make it work based on public statements.

    What Gov. Romney does is say “here is part of my plan” (the 20% rate reduction) and “there is another part you can’t see” (the reductions to deductions and credits) and then he says “they all work together, honest.”

    No one has found a way for them to work. And so, without evidence, you take Gov. Romney’s word for it all, for the hidden part.

    That is not a good defense of a rational world view. You have no math. You simply believe a promise OVER any work anyone has done to figure it out.

  15. EMRVentures says:

    I definitely share the view that the twisting of reality effect is stronger on the right, but I also see another reason for that. There simply seems to be more of an appetite for far-right programming among Republicans than among Democrats. There’s no Democrat equivalent of Rush Limbaugh not because there’s no Democrat in the country who knows how to do that, but because not as many Democrats want to listen to three hours of that kind of thing, where every issue is black-and-white, and your political opponent is always motivated by malice. I’m a democrat, most of my friends are democrats and many farther left than me. And among them, there’s not much of an appetite for lefty broadcasting that spends hours badmouthing the opposition, MSNBC will never rival Fox in the ratings game by trying to copy Fox.

  16. Fiona says:

    +1 to Jan for ignoring reality by obstufication and going off-topic (look, look, shiny object).

    I think we’ve all pretty much agreed that Obama lost the debate and is now paying for it in recent polls. Glad you found one study Obama mischaracteriized, given there are several other studies out there that show Romney’s tax math does not add up. Pat yoursel on the back for scoring a cheap point.

    But it’s hardly the point of Doug’s essay. Or maybe it is. You’ve culled your conservative sources to find points that buttress your viewpoint and trotted them out without even considering facts or studies that don’t mess with your perspective. You’ve got your world view and you’re sticking to it, facts be damned.

  17. legion says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    the side on the wrong side of historical trends retreats into fantasy

    Yes and no. When anyone gets news they a) don’t like and b) weren’t expecting, there is a natural tendency to deny it. But it’s what happens as time goes by that determines the pathology. As you noted, there were people on the left who had a hard time dealing with the Bush v. Gore decision. But over time, those people either let it go & moved on or were marginalized by the mainstream Left. In contrast, there are many Republicans that not only still believe Obama isn’t a citizen, but are actively still investigating that rabbit hole. And they aren’t marginalized by the larger group, they’re GOP superstars. That’s not just “retreating into fantasy”, that’s clinical organizational insanity.

  18. David M says:

    I am impressed that during a discussion about denying reality, someone would attempt to defend Romney’s tax plans. Back in reality though, they do not add up. I think anyone willing to believe the nonsense from the Romney campaign on this issue actually wants to believe lies, because they aren’t mature enough to handle the truth.

  19. stonetools says:

    Doug is 100 per committed to the “both sides do it” fallacy. That’s a denial of reality problem all by itself.

    Here’s a clue, Doug. If side A does it a 100 times more than side B, then both sides aren’t equally to blame.
    Surely, there are left wingers who get it wrong sometimes But the right wing has a machine dedicated to generating an alternative reality..
    You doubt that, go to Memeorandum and see a bunch of right wing blogs trying to generate all by themselves a scandal about illegal foreign donations to the Obama campaign (I’m sure it’s on talk radio too).There is just nothing like that on the left wing.

    Heck, two of the biggest critics of Obama’s debate performance were Andrew Sullivan and Chris Matthews. Obama got lots of criticism from the left for his performance-in real time.
    Now if Romney had flopped in his debate, I guarantee that all the right wing blogs-the Hot Air, Pajama, Michelle Malkin folk-would be busy spinning the narrative that Romney actually won, and Fox News and talk radio would have joined in. They always cheer lead and never criticize their guys. Note that Romney “won” the debate by flipping strongly to the center. Has the right wing media said a word about that? Nope.
    The right wing media is just on a completely different level than the odd left winger in terms of their message discipline and their commitment to creating an alternate reality. To deny this is itself reality denial.

  20. Rob in CT says:

    Both sides do it – yes.
    Both sides do it equally – no.

    Which Doug’s post points out.

    I think there is a danger of the Left playing catch up when it comes to this. Though I’ve been encouraged by the failure of various attempts (Air America, etc).

  21. michael reynolds says:

    The reasons for the yawning gap between left and right on the matter of denialism is, I believe, obvious.

    We are somewhat better-educated, more secular, more urban/suburban and younger. They are less well-educated, more religious, more likely to be rural and older.

    Obviously there are all sorts of folks in both groups — older, rural liberals and younger, secular conservatives. But the overal differences group to group are significant and I believe growing which is why one group is off in fantasy land while we poor liberal fools are stuck with reality.

  22. mantis says:

    That Democrats share, at least, the impulse became clear Wednesday night when a CNN snap poll showed Romney winning overwhelmingly. The liberal twittersphere erupted with skepticism over a sample that, an easy misread suggested, was tilted toward Southern Whites. The progressive news site TalkingPointsMemo shared, then retracted, those doubts; others, like the enduring liberal blog Hullaballoo, which declared the poll “malpractice,” didn’t correct, and the episode prompted a wave of glee among conservatives who had watched the previous round of unskewing with some embarrassment.

    There’s a big difference between an skeptical impulse when something unexpected happens and denial of reality. Look at the TPM piece Smith uses as an example. The headline is “We’re Trying To Figure This Out,” and the post was quickly updated when the facts came in. TPM was saw something odd and looked into it, found out it wasn’t what they thought it could be, and updated their post. Digby did provide a correction, even if Smith didn’t see it.

    This is a far cry from Republican denial of reality, which is persistent and impervious to facts. Almost none of them ever back down from it. How many birthers have you seen turn around and admit there is no evidence for their claims and plenty that disproves them? How many of these poll unskewerers have admitted their faulty conclusions are based on misunderstandings of how polls work?

    Jumping to a conclusion, realizing you were wrong, and backtracking is normal. Continuing to insist you are correct despite tons of evidence to the contrary is not. Everybody’s got a fringe that does the latter. Republicans are all fringe.

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, yes, but if you are going to cite it approvingly, including saying “Smith is correct, and it’s quite obvious that the left is as capable of creating its own version of reality as the right is.”, then it is totally fair to read it as representing your views.

  24. stonetools says:

    Jan is just one more example of right wing reality denial. Again, right wingers have their own experts who will tell you that the Romney Tax plan is fine and dandy. That’s what makes the alternate reality project so convincing. Heck , the creationists have their “experts” who tell you that their science proves that the earth is only 6, 000 years old and that Adam and Eve lived with dinosaurs.
    What matters is the scholarly consensuson these issues, not whether some guy backs a claim-even if the some guy is a doctor. There are geologists that to this day deny continental drift, but they are not in the consensus-they’re in the crackpot minority.
    Most studies of the Romney tax plan agree that its unrealistic. THAT’S the reality. Deal with that, Jan.

  25. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Mischaracterization is a frequently used tool by Obama and his minions

    That’s rich coming from someone supporting a candidate who openly lies about pretty much everything.

    Also, where are the details of Romney’s tax plan?

  26. swbarnes2 says:

    when the American people start segregating themselves into political camps that get their “facts” from completely different sources with completely different sources, one has to wonder how it’s even possible for us to agree about anything.

    So, an example. Here we are, your post, the concluding sentence. Someone is trying to get a straightforward assessment of which side is more likely to have the facts correct. Would someone reading your post find that stated in a straightforward manner? Or have you just left that out, because it’s inconvenient to your conservative slant?

  27. cd6 says:

    Does the RIGHT deny reality??? HELL NO

    The only thing the right denies is that NObama’s socialist, anti-american eagle agenda is the right path forward for this great nation

    Sometimes JOURNOLISTERS like Doug “Handouts” Mataconis report skewed data and then say “WHY DOES THE RIGHT REJECT REALITY?”

    Well guess what. Your soros funded saul alinsky tactics aren’t working today. True patriots like tsar nick and jan see right through your doctrination attempts. We know clint eastwood gave an amazing speech and dinosaurs were on the ark and romney is winning the polls right now.

    We accept UNSKEWED REALITY
    Why do YOU deny reality??

  28. john personna says:

    @Fiona:

    I believe immediate response polls showed a split, with about 2/3rds calling a Romney win and 1/3 calling an Obama one. In that situation the data-correct phrasing is “most people think Romney won.”

    The abstract “Romney won” depends on it being all or nothing, as if the 1/3 should have a different subjective opinion based on the majority one.

    … geeking out on belief and statistical measurement

  29. Rafer Janders says:

    “When people watch only Fox News, or only MSNBC, their minds are thrown into this preferred-world state,” he said. “The accuracy motive fades a bit.”

    Which completely false supposed facts does MSNBC peddle?

  30. john personna says:

    (One meta-irony here is that “both sides do it” is a denial of reality.)

  31. beth says:

    I wonder if people like Jan have even bothered to read the actual analysis done by the Princeton economist – his entire conclusion is that Romney’s plan does work IF itemized deductions for medical expenses, mortgage interest, charity donations, state and local taxes and employer provided healthcare are eliminated for the top income groups. (There’s a nifty little chart at the end of his paper that details all this.) Does she really think the wealthy donors to Romney’s campaign are going to go along with this? Will small business owners making $100,000 per year sign on to this? No wonder Romney won’t be specific about his plans.

    It’s no wonder people deny reality – they don’t have the facts of that reality and are too lazy to go look it up for themselves.

  32. mantis says:

    @cd6:

    Good spoof but too many words are spelled correctly for it to be believable.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @mantis:
    Also I feel he needed more exclamation points. Otherwise well done.

  34. Vast Variety says:

    Personally the best scourse of news I’ve found is my local NBC affiliate (WHO) in Des Moines and the first 30 mins of the Today show every morning. Beyond that most of the rest just seems like a waste of bandwidth.

  35. Fiona says:

    @john personna:

    Point taken. My husband thinks Obama won because he found Romney to be frenetic and unspecific, whereas Obama provided measured, detailed responses even if he lacked Romney’s energy. Winning is a matter of perspective. Most commenters on this blog felt Obama lost.

    The left, as a whole, did not dispute the post-debate polls giving Romney a huge edge. Had the results gone the other way, based on their antics during this election cycle, I’d bet the right would be questioning poll results.

  36. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “You’re aware that’s a quote from Ben Smith’s piece and not my writing, right?”

    Which you then supported.

    I’m not sure if the snap poll in question is the one that I saw, but if it is, then the reason was that the demographic ocunts and percentages were only given for college-educated southerners over age 50. For all other groups, the break-down was ‘N/A’. Obviously, this raised questions.

  37. Barry says:

    @Fiona: “Point taken. My husband thinks Obama won because he found Romney to be frenetic and unspecific, whereas Obama provided measured, detailed responses even if he lacked Romney’s energy. Winning is a matter of perspective. Most commenters on this blog felt Obama lost.”

    I think that a good way to summarize the left’s opinion was ‘Romney lied through his teeth. But Obama lost, because he couldn’t deal with that’.

    Both statements are reality.

  38. JKB says:

    It’s a little late in the game to deny post-modernism now, isn’t it? My reality is just as valid as your reality. So really there can be no denial of a reality only hate speech with the intent to deny another’s reality. We have embraced the diversity so much of out tuition is being spent to man and promote. How can you challenge diversity of realities? How can we have true diversity until we have a diversity of realities? Are you some kind of objective truth truther?

  39. madawaskan says:

    Any pollster will tell you -that a poll–is not “reality”.

    Maybe we have to go back to the basics–but have any of you taken a science course?

    Define–science?

    What happens when you try to predicthuman behavior?

    I can’t emphasize “human” and “predict” enough.

    Polling is not “science”–it is not “fact” –as the author seems to suggest.

    Here’s another hint –even “if” it was a science–can you control for all the variables?

    No.

    Do you have much historical data for a first time African American President–that uniquely relies on the race allegiance of a minority group?

    No.

    And, yes we can call it race allegiance–one thing about polling history and data you have never before found one minority group voting for one candidate by such large percentages–almost everyone can agree on that.

    Finally–what’s the worse that can happen?

    What is the “fear” of the blogger–that polling gets discredited?

    The humanity!!!

  40. madawaskan says:

    btw–the employment numbers a part of that was based on a household survey–that isn’t actual payrolls that is also subject to error and will get possibly revised in 18 months or so–by the “real” data.

  41. madawaskan says:

    IOW–a household survey is not –“fact”.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Much easier to debate a poorly-understood straw man isn’t it? You can’t really handle any of the real people here, so you debate a figment of your own imagination.

    See, that would be what we’re talking about.

  43. michael reynolds says:

    @madawaskan:

    It’s a data point. It’s a fact that the survey says X. It’s a fact that other times the survey says X+1 or X-1. I don’t think anyone is confused on this. No one thinks a poll is the speed of light.

  44. madawaskan says:

    Florida Senate – Mack vs. Nelson WeAskAmerica Nelson 44, Mack 44 Tie

    Florida Senate – Mack vs. Nelson Rasmussen Reports Nelson 52, Mack 41 Nelson +11

    ________________________

    Damn those “Poll Deniers” all to Hell!!1

    (yes–I am being sarcastic–or making fun of the blogger and/or Ben Smith–scientist to the stars!)

  45. elizajane says:

    @john personna:

    Completely agree. It was evolution as “the word of the Devil” (as an elected member of congress put it recently) that provided the basis for right-wing denialism. Once you have some 80% of a party convinced that scientific evidence is a plot to undermine the Truth of Belief, they are primed to accept a similar construct on all number of matters. Climate change is the most obvious, because the ways in which it was argued against were so similar — evil scientists ignoring gaps in the evidence, that sort of baloney.
    But once evidence is constructed as something produced by your enemies to confound your side, then you can really be easily convinced of just about anything.

  46. Buzz Buzz says:

    The drones must be getting really nervous and the queens extremely desperate to put up a “denial of reality” post based entirely on an article written by the dishonest Journ-O-Lister shill Ben Smith.

    You ought to rename the site to “Inside The Hive”.

  47. bk says:

    @michael reynolds: I think that what JKB was saying was snark, but I could be wrong there.

  48. madawaskan says:

    Forgot to mention both of those polls were published today.

  49. Stan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I resent your canard about liberals and Torricelli’s principle. I have taught generations of students that
    V = √gh, and every liberal I know feels the same way.

  50. bk says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Journ-O-Lister shill

    That’s about as annoying, and as currently meaningless, and (frankly) just as STUPID a term, as “Chicago-style politics”.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    @bk:

    Possible. Then again, he’s not very bright, so. . .

  52. madawaskan says:

    You know if you think polls are -science, reality, and “fact”–

    put you MONEY down in Vegas on the polls you like then.

    Oh–not ready to do that?

    Pourquoi pas?

  53. legion says:

    @cd6:
    It’s times like this I wish I could inline images to these comments:

    Not sure if cd6 is trolling…
    …or having an aneurysm.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @madawaskan:

    Why is this hard for you to understand? A poll is a poll. Absolutely no one thinks a poll is a mathematical fact. But it is a data point within a set of data points and as such has value.

    If you want to actually understand the matter why don’t you read some of the best polling sites, like Nate Silver? Or if you want a decidedly conservative site, go to RealClearPolitics.com.

    No one anywhere is claiming that polls are as simple as 1+1=2. You’re desperately refuting what absolutely no one is asserting.

  55. legion says:

    @madawaskan: I realize you’re on a fact-resistant rant here, but as others have tried to point out: nobody thinks polls are facts. But the way the polls are taken hasn’t changed. The methodology is the same, the population is the same, and the information is publicly available. It shows something marginally different this month than last month (a whopping 0.3% change). this has caused some people to lose their damn minds. Some of them had already lost them long ago.

  56. mantis says:

    @madawaskan:

    Polling is not “science”–it is not “fact” –as the author seems to suggest.

    In science, a fact is just an observation. Don’t try to lecture us about science. You obviously don’t have a clue.

  57. madawaskan says:

    @madawaskan:

    Why is this hard for you to understand? A poll is a poll. Absolutely no one thinks a poll is a mathematical fact. But it is a data point within a set of data points and as such has value.

    ___________________________

    Okay–how about this?

    If a polling company was off it’s prediction by nearly 20% in it’s polling right before a recent election should it still be “averaged” in with the other “data”?

    (Yes–there was a polling company that was that off in the recent primary election polling.)

    Yes or no?

    Any good statistician would drop it–but that has not happened with Nate Silver or Real Clear Politics.

    The “junk” is still averaged in.

  58. David M says:

    @madawaskan:

    Any good statistician would drop it–but that has not happened with Nate Silver or Real Clear Politics.

    The “junk” is still averaged in.

    I don’t think you understand how 538 or RCP work.

  59. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    The weird thing is that in the day, the right loved Alan Bloom’s early warning on cultural relativism in The Closing of the American Mind. And yet, which party most falls victim?

    It is not equal that one party puts a denial of climate change in their platform and another “watches to MSNBC.” That is not an objective measure of equivalence. That is a relativistic world-view.

  60. michael reynolds says:

    @madawaskan:

    It’s not “averaged in” it’s included in their equation. They give greater weight to some polls and some types of polls and less weight to others. I think it’s fair to say that Nate Silver knows a whole bunch more about polls and statistics than you do. Like I said: go read what he says about his methodology. Ditto Blumenthal at Pollster.com or whoever does Poll Tracker. They all have different methods, different approaches, which is why we get a range between RCP and 538 and Pollster etc….

    None of them do what you think they do. So, again, you are arguing with the air, not debating with actual people about actual data. Which of course is rather making the point that some people have a very hard time dealing with reality.

  61. TastyBits says:

    @stonetools:

    “Scholarly consensus” is used to validate theology not science, and those defying the “scholarly consensus” tend to have an unpleasant life. Many are regarded as crackpots, and some are declared heretics.

    Plate Tectonics is well established by measurable movement not “scholarly consensus”. I would be interested in learning of the geologists who deny this movement.

  62. madawaskan says:

    What’s ironic is I am arguing with Liberals on a Libertarian site.

    A site-that has given the power to its Liberal commenters to potentially repress comments they do not “like” with down dings.

    Get enough down dings and even readers of free will who chose to read the “repressed” comments are faced with faded type and eye strain as punishment for reading the “unpopular” comments.

    It’s ludicrous.

    Libertarian, free will atheists who ridicule “Poll Deniers”…. and then repress the comments of those that dare question the methodology.

    If you are a Libertarian and you compromise on the value of free speech like that–what won’t you compromise?

  63. madawaskan says:

    You don’t want to debate–you are most likely the person downgrading my comments–to “lead” the charge in getting my comments –“unreadable.”

    Proud of yourself?

    It’s so “Mean Girls”, but not even cute–you’re probably adult males–*ugh*.

  64. legion says:

    @madawaskan:

    A site-that has given the power to its Liberal commenters to potentially repress comments they do not “like” with down dings.

    You really do equate “disagreement” with “repression”. A more concise example of the modern faux-conservative, entitled, “I only want to play games I’m sure to win” mindset I have not seen (today). Would you feel more comfortable if we responded like the commenters at Tucker Carlson’s place or Fox News, and just deluged you with death wishes and racial/sexual slurs? Man up, buddy. Bring facts to this party or get hurt.

  65. David M says:

    @madawaskan:

    Looking back through your posts, I’m not even sure what your point is. Are you claiming there’s something about the 2012 election that has suddenly made all polling results invalid?

  66. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I think the Left might have been in this tunnel vision in the 70s when a significant portion of people thought capitalism or “the establishment” could do no right, but today the Right denies things like Climate Change, Evolution, and even some thinking that government spending can actually DESTROY jobs. Not only that, but many talk about social security on the brink of disaster, whites as the only group of people that is actually discriminated, and public schools (and even private universities like Harvard or Yale) as breeding ground for Anti-americanism. And let’s not even talk about birtherism or all the crazy conspiracy theories against Obama, which are not even internally consistent. There is nothing comparable on the Left. At best, there’s a naive belief on government efficiency in some cases, and perhaps a belief that the Koch brothers have a disproportionate influence to what they actually have, but no one in the Left is arguing that lowering taxes should never be tried, or that government is incapable of creating dependency under any circumstance. There’s no economic or scientific consensus that the Left denies. And it’s also important to note that this is an American phenomenon because all the important Right-wing political parties in the major industrial countries recognize climate change, evolution etc. And many of them even embrace gay marriage such as the Tories in Britain. So let’s not pretend that we’re talking about the same phenomenon. Yes, all people can convince themselves of particular political talking points despite all available evidence, but the Right is not just tweaking the facts, it’s in an entirely different universe.

  67. michael reynolds says:

    @madawaskan:

    Restating your position again and again while failing to refute opposing points or to defend your own position is evidence that you are unprepared to actually advocate for your position using logic or facts. That does put you at a disadvantage. You’ve wandered into a place where people and their ideas are challenged. I gather that’s a new experience for you.

    For your information, I never downvote anyone for their opinion. I only downvote people who are hijacking the thread or being overly objectionable.

    If you have a point to make beyond restating whatever you think your premise is, make it. Everyone will wait patiently.

  68. gVOR08 says:

    Doug said,

    …and it’s quite obvious that the left is as capable of creating its own version of reality as the right is.

    Umh, no, not until someone presents examples. The examples in Ben Smith’s piece and in comments so far are:
    • Initial skeptical reaction, since dropped, to the genuinely odd crosstabs in a snap poll after the debate
    • Believing Al Gore won in 2000. I don’t want to restart that, but there certainly are grounds for skepticism and it was a +/- some small fraction of a percent deal.
    • Tsar’s “war on poverty, Chicago 68, McGovern, lines for gasoline, Torricelli, BDS and 00s”. Whatever all that means, there may be some mistakes and unintended consequences buried in there, but a hard fact the left denies?
    • Jan found one economists who says Romney’s tax plan can work, against how many who’ve said otherwise.

    Pretty far from hard facts, in fact, pretty feeble.

  69. wr says:

    @madawaskan: “What’s ironic is I am arguing with Liberals on a Libertarian site.”

    I’d be a lot more inclined to believe that not all the conservative commenters here were flat out morons if a single one of them had a clue about the actual meaning of the word “ironic.”

  70. Herb says:

    @madawaskan: I missed most of this thread, hard at work as I am, but this comment made me laugh:

    A site-that has given the power to its Liberal commenters to potentially repress comments they do not “like” with down dings.

    I encourage all OTB newbies to stick around a bit before they pass judgement. Yes, there is a sizeable liberal readership on what is a conservative/Libertarian blog.

    Why is that, I wonder? Are we liberals too dumb to know we should be reading Pravda instead? Are the conservatives and Libertarians who write here too dumb to know they shouldn’t have any liberals reading their stuff?

    Screw that. Three cheers for open minds and NOT preaching to the choir.

  71. stonetools says:

    @TastyBits:

    Creationist geologists:

    A very few young evangelicals did manage to survive graduate education in geology with their Biblical fundamentalist faith intact. Three of the most prominent are Stephen Austin, John Morris, and Kurt Wise (no relation).

    Steven Austin earned a B.S. in geology form the University of Washington and an M.S. from San Jose State with a thesis critical of uniformitarianism. Morris and the CRS paid Austin’s tuition and living expenses while he earned a Ph.D. in coal geology from Penn State in 1979 (Numbers, 1993). During his Penn State time he also wrote creationist articles under the pseudonym of Stuart Nevins. Currently he is chair of the ICR’s Department of Geology and a major contributor to their in-house publications and articles on geology. His Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, (Austin, 1994) is a slick, full-color volume designed both as a guide for Austin’s fundamentalist field trips into the Canyon (Figure 3) and as a potential text for fundamentalist college-level geology courses. In these publications his scientific philosophy is never in doubt: “The real battle in regard to understanding the Grand Canyon is founded not just upon Creation and Noah’s Flood versus evolution, but upon Christianity versus humanism.” (Austin, 1994)

    Like I said, even in hard-science fields, there are dissenters. There are creationist biologists as well.

    So even in the hard sciences, you go with the scholarly consensus. I would agree that you have to rely on scholarly consensus for authority more with the social sciences, since the analysis relies on probabilities, rather than the measurements of physical objects.

  72. jan says:

    @Fiona:

    I think we’ve all pretty much agreed that Obama lost the debate and is now paying for it in recent polls. Glad you found one study Obama mischaracteriized, given there are several other studies out there that show Romney’s tax math does not add up. Pat yoursel on the back for scoring a cheap point.

    Maybe people have agreed that Obama lost the debate. However, more important than citing it as a loss, the important question is ‘why’ did he lose it. Beyond the myriad of excuses being immediately offered up by his people, it appears that the dems, and people on OTB have settled on the old demonization tactic which has worked so well for keeping Romney at bay in the past — calling him a liar, and everything he says a lie. While that is succinct and certainly sensational, it is beginning to lose it’s starch. And, more people are looking at Obama for what he is, an incompetent president leading us further into a hole, instead of what you want him to be, a man who can bring us to better times.

    Yes, Harvey Rosen now has come forward and disputed Obama’s claims. But, so has a group called the tax foundation, saying that studies conducted by people like the Tax Policy Center (TPC) have only looked at the immediate versus the more long term effects of Romney’s plan. When looking at it through the latter, the results are quite different from TPC’s, and more supportive of Romney’s revenue-neutral claims.

    This kind of political lens-crafting, though, is similar to the jobs report, where everyone is exuding over the erratic household survey report in getting to that 7.8 UE number, rather than the other equally, if not more, serious stat, depicted in the more reliable establishment survey, showing a slowing of jobs. There is also a diminishment of pay scale to the jobs created under Obama’s economic policies, PT work replacing better full time, better paying jobs, and an overall lower job participation rate than when he took office in 2009. I think it was Mort Zucherman, a former enthusiastic Obama supporter, who says if the participation rate was the same today as in ’09, the EU would be more like 11%.

    These, Fiona, represent the state of the economy. And, I somehow think that if this were a republican president, sporting the same record of ‘achievement’ as Obama, you would be taking these other measurements of ‘recovery’ into consideration, becoming more critical of that man’s performance in office than you are of Obama’s.

    BTW, I would never post anything from a site like WND. In the same way that this site is viewed beyond far right, I see Think Progress in much the same way, as being the twin of WND, except on the left.

  73. An Interested Party says:

    Hell, in this day and age politics without reality denial would be like coffee without cream. All part and parcel of the big slide.

    Indeed…this is the best answer I’ve seen to explain the ranting of Tsar Nicholas…oh my, would he be able to grasp the irony?

    The drones must be getting really nervous and the queens extremely desperate to put up a “denial of reality” post based entirely on an article written by the dishonest Journ-O-Lister shill Ben Smith.

    You ought to rename the site to “Inside The Hive”.

    Anyone who would try to stuff Doug, of all people, into the Great Liberal Conspiracy cannot be on close terms with reality…

    You know if you think polls are -science, reality, and “fact”–

    put you MONEY down in Vegas on the polls you like then.

    Well, there is Intrade

    You don’t want to debate–you are most likely the person downgrading my comments–to “lead” the charge in getting my comments –”unreadable.”

    Proud of yourself?

    It’s so “Mean Girls”, but not even cute–you’re probably adult males–*ugh*.

    The Conservative Victimization Tour will never, ever end…

  74. wr says:

    @Herb: Thanks, Herb. I read lots of liberal blogs and the occasional conservative one, and this is the only one where I can even bring myself to read the comments. Most blog comments are unbearable — either cheers for the original post or obscene rants about the other side. There are real discussions here — not always honest, not always useful, not always even entertaining… but often enough at least two out of three to make this blog one of my favorite places on the web.

    Also, it’s fun to see how few blog posts it takes Jay/Jenos and Bithead to give themselves away when they pick up a new screen name…

  75. An Interested Party says:

    Beyond the myriad of excuses being immediately offered up by his people, it appears that the dems, and people on OTB have settled on the old demonization tactic which has worked so well for keeping Romney at bay in the past — calling him a liar, and everything he says a lie.

    Umm, not really…most people agree that the President lost because he gave a listless performance…but that doesn’t mean that Romney didn’t lie, because he certainly did…

  76. Herb says:

    @jan:

    “Maybe people have agreed that Obama lost the debate. However, more important than citing it as a loss, the important question is ‘why’ did he lose it.”

    Here’s why Obama lost the debate:

    1) No crowd feedback crimped his podium style
    2) Mitt Romney moderated many of his positions

    Bam.

  77. wr says:

    @jan: ” However, more important than citing it as a loss, the important question is ‘why’ did he lose it”

    Um, no. The answer is he lost it because he gave a lousy performance. Now a lot of conservatives are trying to convince people that the reason he was lousy was because he knows he’s a fraud and a failure and couldn’t rouse himself to defend his record. Which is patently ludicrous — everyone in public life, from the actor promoting a movie he knows is lousy to a politician running on a crummy record, has performance skills to get past that kind of self-doubt. So unless Obama is the single most honest and pure man ever to run for president, I’d say the answer lies somewhere else.

    But one place it doesn’t lie is “because he secretly agrees with Jan.” That’s just plain stupid. Even you must understand that.

  78. wr says:

    @jan: “But, so has a group called the tax foundation, saying that studies conducted by people like the Tax Policy Center (TPC) have only looked at the immediate versus the more long term effects of Romney’s plan. When looking at it through the latter, the results are quite different from TPC’s, and more supportive of Romney’s revenue-neutral claims. ”

    Wow, that would be really impressive if I didn’t know how to use Google. But since I do, I was quickly able to learn that the Tax Foundation is a right-wing think tank which is a subsidiary of “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” a Koch Brothers slush fund that has more recently spun off the two biggest Republican PACs, Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. So of course they claim Obama is wrong about Romney’s plan.

    Is this really the best you can do? Are this you really this lazy?

  79. bk says:

    @madawaskan:

    A site-that has given the power to its Liberal commenters to potentially repress comments they do not “like” with down dings.

    Get enough down dings and even readers of free will who chose to read the “repressed” comments are faced with faded type and eye strain as punishment for reading the “unpopular” comments.

    Wow. Is it past your nap time?

  80. stonetools says:

    @beth:

    I wonder if people like Jan have even bothered to read the actual analysis done by the Princeton economist – his entire conclusion is that Romney’s plan does work IF itemized deductions for medical expenses, mortgage interest, charity donations, state and local taxes and employer provided healthcare are eliminated for the top income group

    I think what beth mentions here is key. Is Romney’s tax plan possible? Sure, in an alternative universe where these deductions aren’t popular. Here, on Earth prime, it would be political suicide if Romney set forth a plan that included all these deductions-which is why he won’t talk about them..If these deductions are off the table, then he must raise other taxes to make it revenue neutral .That’s what makes his plan impossible.

    My guess is that Jan and her follow travelers over at the Weekly Standard didn’t even bother to read the analysis. Its enough that they could rip out the headline ” Princeton economist says Obama misrepresents my study” and feed it into the right wing reality making machine , where it gets rebroadcast as truth throughout the Internet, although with commentary that ” Obama lied”.

  81. Herb says:

    @jan: Oh, and PS…..

    I say: “Mitt Romney moderated many of his positions”

    Other people may say: “Mitt Romney lied about his positions.”

    The fact of the matter is that Mitt “47%” Romney stayed home that night, and a nicer, more agreeable and frankly more electable Mitt showed up. Etch-A-Sketch…..shaken.

    Sadly, it seems only a few people on the right have noticed the switcheroo, so enthralled they are by the afterglow of Mitt’s debate win.

  82. Septimius says:

    However, there’s no denying that, in recent years, it has been conservatives who have invested themselves in a version of reality that simply doesn’t comport with the facts.

    I would be very interested in hearing what Andrew Sullivan has to say about this. That is, if he’s not too busy trying to prove that Sarah Palin is not the real mother of Trig.

  83. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    Plate Tectonics is well established by measurable movement not “scholarly consensus”. I would be interested in learning of the geologists who deny this movement.

    Actually this is an important misunderstanding of science. Scholarly consensus is fine. It is either correct, or on the path toward being correct, by successive approximation.

    What you don’t want is “Scholarly lock-down.” By that I mean a position that is fixed and will never change.

    That is the rub. You can fault scholarly consensus for once believing the world was flat, but you must also admit that scholarly consensus now believes that it is round.

    Scholarly consensus makes progress.

  84. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @madawaskan:

    Get enough down dings and even readers of free will who chose to read the “repressed” comments are faced with faded type and eye strain as punishment for reading the “unpopular” comments.

    Sorry, but that is completely untrue here, although it is true on many blogs. The only thing that happens to downvoted comments is that they get a red background which, depending on your browser settings, may actually highlight them and make them easier to read and/or make the virtually the same red color as the OP’s comments.

    As others have said, bring your A Game, be prepared to back yourself, and be willing to concede well-reasoned points from time to time, and you’ll be fine.

  85. john personna says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    There is nothing comparable on the Left.

    Several of us have asked above, and I’ve seen no good answers.

  86. Phaedrus says:

    Conservapedia

  87. john personna says:

    @Septimius:

    If we were only comparing random nutters then Sullivan on Trig would count as one, sure. But this isn’t about random nutters, this is about how craziness actually goes to legislation:

    GOP lawmakers question standards for teaching evolution in Kentucky

    The GOP answer to STEM jobs? Teach it wrong?

  88. David M says:

    @jan:

    But, so has a group called the tax foundation, saying that studies conducted by people like the Tax Policy Center (TPC) have only looked at the immediate versus the more long term effects of Romney’s plan. When looking at it through the latter, the results are quite different from TPC’s, and more supportive of Romney’s revenue-neutral claims.

    Again with the claims that cannot possibly be true? Only two of the following can be true:

    1. Mitt Romney’s tax plan will not increase the deficit.
    2. Mitt Romney’s tax plan will not raise taxes on the middle class
    3. Mitt Romney’s tax plan will cut the top tax rate by 20%

    Romney has promised that all 3 will be true which is the equivalent of claiming 2+2=53. The question isn’t why a politician would promise something like this, it’s why anyone with any self respect would believe it?

    By the way, that doesn’t even require remembering how the GOP has handled this issue in the past, when George W Bush made the exact same claims and the GOP went right along with him. Surprise, surprise their fantasy claims didn’t add up back then either. Only a fool would fall for the exact same thing again.

  89. mantis says:

    @David M:

    Romney has promised that all 3 will be true which is the equivalent of claiming 2+2=53.

    Using unskewed math, it does!

  90. swbarnes2 says:

    Remember when Chevy was losing nearly $50,000 every time it sold a Volt?

    Good times.

  91. mattb says:

    @madawaskan:

    A site-that has given the power to its Liberal commenters to potentially repress comments they do not “like” with down dings.

    Get enough down dings and even readers of free will who chose to read the “repressed” comments are faced with faded type and eye strain as punishment for reading the “unpopular” comments.

    For the record, it was the liberal commenters here who, overwhelmingly, petitioned for the comment system to be tweaked so that down-voted posts still appeared in the comment section. Prior to that, after receiving enough down-votes the comment was hidden.

    So please stop whining about liberals surpressing speech and start intelligently arguing for your positions.

  92. sam says:

    @Phaedrus:

    Conservapedia

    Ah, yes, Conservapedia. In its article, Counterexamples to Relativity, after this intro:

    The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world

    We find among the counterexamples:

    In Genesis 1:6-8, we are told that one of God’s first creations was a firmament in the heavens. This likely refers to the creation of the luminiferous aether.

    Well, that settles it, no?

  93. Barry says:

    @JKB: And a parody of a strawman of particularly foolish english professors means just what to the rest of us?

  94. Barry says:

    @madawaskan: “If a polling company was off it’s prediction by nearly 20% in it’s polling right before a recent election should it still be “averaged” in with the other “data”?”

    Since you don’t actually know that it’s off in its prediction (this being before the election),…..

  95. Septimius says:

    @john personna:

    This is silly. The left does not have a monopoly on science. I know plenty of crazy liberals who believe that Monsanto is destroying the planet. That hotbed of conservatism, Portland, Oregon just voted to flouridate their water, over intense opposition from the more hardcore lefties. Many on the left, including people like Maxine Waters, pushed a crazy theory that AIDS was invented by the CIA to kill black people. The left opposed DDT for decades even though it is highly effective in combatting malaria and saves lives.

  96. legion says:

    @Septimius: True, but we don’t make such people the leaders of our party and put them on Congressional science committees, fer chrissakes. We laugh at them the same as you.

  97. legion says:

    @Phaedrus:

    Conservapedia

    I’ll take “How to spot complete frigging lunatics” for $600, Alex.

    Or did you have some actual point to make?

  98. john personna says:

    @Septimius:

    We can break that down. Monsanto is a big company with many products. Some of them are great, but:

    Last month, researchers at the University of Caen said rats fed on Monsanto’s NK603 GM corn or exposed to its top-selling Roundup glyphosate weed killer were at higher risk of suffering tumors, multiple organ damage and premature death.

    That looks like science to me.

    Fluoride is a funny one to me, because here in Orange County California it was the Rigister newspaper and the hard right wing that fought it as a socialist slippery slope. Amusingly:

    The [John Birch] society opposed water fluoridation, which it called “mass medicine” and saw as a communist plot to poison Americans.

    I’ll give you the CIA/AIDS thing but that is fringe nutters and has never been part of the Democratic Party Platform, nor has it made high profile acceptance.

    The DDT thing is a cheat. DDT is both an effective insecticide and dangerous to humans. The DDT regulations seek to balance the benefit and risk. I think the right actually goes anti-science on that one, arguing that if there is a benefit there must be no risk.

  99. jukeboxgrad says:

    jan:

    Yes, Harvey Rosen now has come forward and disputed Obama’s claims. But, so has a group called the tax foundation, saying that studies conducted by people like the Tax Policy Center (TPC) have only looked at the immediate versus the more long term effects of Romney’s plan. When looking at it through the latter, the results are quite different from TPC’s, and more supportive of Romney’s revenue-neutral claims.

    Did you even bother reading that Tax Foundation article? It essentially confirms that Obama is correct (link):

    We find that fully 60 percent of the static revenue loss from Romney’s plan is recovered when the dynamic effects of economic growth are taken into account. … The Romney tax plan would recover nearly 60 percent of the static projected revenue cost due to economic growth, higher wages and employment, and higher tax collections on the higher incomes. To keep the reform revenue neutral, the government would only need base-broadeners equal to about 40 percent of the static cost. … It would benefit the federal budget as well, in that fully 60 percent of the static revenue loss from Romney’s plan would be recovered from taxing a larger economy.

    English translation: ‘even after we make lots of generous and rosy assumptions about how tax cuts are going to stimulate growth, we are forced to admit that this growth is only going to cover 60% of Mitt’s tax cuts; the other 40% of the cost is not covered.’ Which means that taxes are going to have to go up for someone. That’s what they euphemistically described as “base-broadeners.”

    So this article, if you actually bother grasping it, is not “supportive of Romney’s revenue-neutral claims.” On the contrary. It explicitly admits that there is a 40% gap in Mitt’s plan, even after making lots of generous assumptions about growth. Let us know where Tax Foundation or Mitt or anyone else tells us who is going to get the bill for that 40% gap.

  100. john personna says:

    More science on DDT:

    DDT is a persistent organic pollutant that is readily adsorbed to soils and sediments, which can act both as sinks and as long-term sources of exposure contributing to terrestrial organisms.[2] Depending on conditions, its soil half life can range from 22 days to 30 years. Routes of loss and degradation include runoff, volatilization, photolysis and aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation. Due to hydrophobic properties, in aquatic ecosystems DDT and its metabolites are absorbed by aquatic organisms and adsorbed on suspended particles, leaving little DDT dissolved in the water itself. Its breakdown products and metabolites, DDE and DDD, are also highly persistent and have similar chemical and physical properties.[1] DDT and its breakdown products are transported from warmer regions of the world to the Arctic by the phenomenon of global distillation, where they then accumulate in the region’s food web.[34]

    Because of its lipophilic properties, DDT has a high potential to bioaccumulate, especially in predatory birds.[35] DDT, DDE, and DDD magnify through the food chain, with apex predators such as raptor birds concentrating more chemicals than other animals in the same environment. They are very lipophilic and are stored mainly in body fat. DDT and DDE are very resistant to metabolism; in humans, their half-lives are 6 and up to 10 years, respectively. In the United States, these chemicals were detected in almost all human blood samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control in 2005, though their levels have sharply declined since most uses were banned in the US.[36] Estimated dietary intake has also declined,[36] although FDA food tests commonly detect it.[37]

    More on direct impacts on human health here.

  101. jukeboxgrad says:

    jan:

    Harvey Rosen of Princeton, is refuting and correcting the claims Obama is making about that very plan

    The problems with what Rosen did are explained here. That same article also explains how Mitt and Feldstein (another economist Mitt cites repeatedly) are playing a shell game with the term ‘middle class.’

    Tax Foundation and Rosen are basically selling the same snake oil: that tax cuts pay for themselves. Trouble is, even Alan Greenspan has admitted that they don’t (link).

  102. Septimius says:

    @john personna:

    Hey, you know what else is harmful to humans? Malaria.

  103. David M says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    You are right, the studies Romney and his defenders cite don’t backup his claims.

  104. stonetools says:

    What’s amazing about the right wing reality distortion field machine is its completeness and its discipline. Its perfect for generating fake outrage and scandal. The right wing blogs float some wing nut theory in the morning, and if it has any legs its all over on talk radio that afternoon. By night its on Fox News and in the morning right wing newspapers like the Washington Times are discussing it in print. Once it is in print , it is something respectable which means the mainstream media like the WaPo , ABC News, and the Atlantic discuss it, even with caveats, which fuels more right wing blog discussion, ands on and on.

    Also too, if you are a conservative , you never have to stray out of the conservative loop and you never see any challenge to the conservative position. This is why conservatives like Jan always come a cropper in these discussions. Her conservative talking points look devastating and irrefutable when they get posted on Instapundit and Hot Air , where liberals can’t respond to them. When she brings them here, where liberals can respond with facts, they get cut down pretty quickly.
    It seems to me that on left wing blogs, you’ll find more willingness to criticize and disagree about Administration policy. The weekend before the debates, there was plenty of back and forth about Obama’s drone policy on the Atlantic, LGM,, CT , and Balloon Juice. On the main right wing blogs, no one gave a damn about the legality or rightness of the drone war. Their only concern was that Romney needed to be in charge of it.
    I think of the left wing blogosphere is pretty much a bunch of cats that don’t herd easily and the right wing blogosphere as part of a machine.

  105. wr says:

    @Septimius: “I would be very interested in hearing what Andrew Sullivan has to say about this. ”

    Well, that’s one more difference between us. Eleven years ago, Sullivan claimed that everyone who wasn’t as gullible as him about the Bush administration’s BS justifications for war were part of a “fifth column” of traitors trying to destroy America.

    I haven’t given a rat’s ass about anything he’s said or written since, and can’t imagine why anyone else would.

  106. legion says:

    @Septimius: Hey, you know what we don’t have a huge problem with in the continental US, even though we don’t use DDT to kill mosquitoes? Malaria! Try another strawman.

  107. TastyBits says:

    @stonetools:

    I did not see anything about Plate Tectonics, but I only skimmed the material. Most established science was a crazy theory at one time. The problem with Creationist Geologists and Creationist Biologists is the scientific method. In order to be scientific, it must be falsifiable. Settled science is theology, and for the Bible to be a basis for science, it must be able to be wrong. Science does not allow an omnipotent God.

  108. TastyBits says:

    @john personna:

    For the hard sciences, I will repeat: “Scholarly consensus” is used to validate theology not science. Science uses the Scientific Method not Robert’s Rules of Order. Instruments, measurements, and standards are agreed upon, but this is the framework for science.

    Plate Tectonics was accepted because the movement can be measured. A solar eclipse proved that light is bent by gravity. A radio signal validated the Big Bang.

    The world has been known to be round for a long time. The ancient Greeks were able to calculate the circumference of the Earth fairly accurately. Geometry and observation were used not a consensus.

  109. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    Scholarly consensus now supports the germ theory of disease. That was hard fought.

    So is “consensus!” a valid attack on germ theory?

    Of course not. This “consensus is bad” thing is totally an irrational defense. Since you don’t like just a slender minority of scientific belief, you shotgun them all. It is know-nothingism. No consensus is valid. We know nothing.

  110. al-Ameda says:

    Well …. If one side denies reality 90% of the time, and the other side denies it 10% of the time I suppose it is literally correct – technically correct – to say that both sides do it.

    It is also the equivalent of empty calories.

  111. al-Ameda says:

    @cd6:

    JOURNOLISTERS

    Where did that right-wing term come from? Was it that no one could spell “journalists”?

  112. TastyBits says:

    @john personna:

    Scholarly consensus now supports the germ theory of disease. That was hard fought.

    Germ Theory was validated by physical evidence. Philosophy is validated by “scholarly consensus”

    Of course not. This “consensus is bad” thing is totally an irrational defense. Since you don’t like just a slender minority of scientific belief, you shotgun them all. It is know-nothingism. No consensus is valid. We know nothing.

    What I like or dislike is irrelevant. If a scientific belief does not comport with reality, it is not scientific. Fitting reality to a theory is not science no matter how many people agree.

    Many scientific theories are languishing while physical or mathematical proof is established, and many of these are quite attractive.

  113. Facebones says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Which completely false supposed facts does MSNBC peddle?

    That Joe Scarborough is a competent TV host.

  114. Stonetools says:

    @TastyBits:

    Those creationist geologists and biologists would claim that they are using the scientific method and evaluating physical evidence too. The scholarly consensus would be that they are doing it wrong. What we have here, oddly enough, is a disagreement about the philosophy of science. You seem to think the scientific method is a precise fact agreed upon by everyone. It’s not. The scientific method is what most scientists agree it is, although there are practicing scientists who dispute even the existence of a “The Scientific Method”. I’m afraid it’s scholarly consensus all the way down.
    Anyway, this is outside the scope of the topic, so we should just agree to disagree on this.

  115. TastyBits says:

    @Stonetools:

    I am discussing the hard sciences, and hard science is objective not subjective. Testing methodology, measuring instruments, and standards are part of the framework, and they must be agreed upon. In many cases, these changes are based upon changes to scientific knowledge, and sometimes, new theory requires changes to the framework.

    The scientific method is what defines science. The scientific method is not a precise fact. It is a method of establishing what is and is not included within the bounds of science, and it provides a process to validate a hypothesis or theory. Anybody is allowed to work on any theory that is subject to the scientific method, but that theory will not be accepted until it is validated.

    Creationists want their theory accepted before it has been validated. Their method of validation is to falsify another theory, but proving another theory is wrong does not prove their theory is correct.

  116. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    The things conservatives hate, the things that they cry “consensus!” on are also confirmed by physical evidence. It is “consensus” that the physical evidence proves the case.

    Really this “consensus” thing is the weirdest, most irrational, complaint coming out of the right wing movement.

    A consensus of experts say, based on statistical studies, that daily aspirin are good for some patients. Does that mean that if your doctor suggests aspirin for you, you should say “No! I reject consensus!”?

    That’s where you are coming from, if you really stop and think it through.

  117. TastyBits says:

    @john personna:

    The things conservatives hate, the things that they cry “consensus!” on are also confirmed by physical evidence. It is “consensus” that the physical evidence proves the case.

    Really this “consensus” thing is the weirdest, most irrational, complaint coming out of the right wing movement.

    I am not sure if you are applying this to me, but if so, you have prejudged me based upon your preconceived idea of a “conservative” or member of the “right wing movement”. This is trafficking in stereotypes, but that is not the first time I have experienced prejudice on this board.

    Science is not based upon political philosophy, and those with whom you disagree are not weird or irrational. Introducing politics into science is weird and irrational. I have had discussions about whether Einstein supplanted or complemented Newton, but I have never had a debate about which was the conservative. At the time, Einstein’s theories were radical, and I guess this would make him the liberal or left winger.

    Testing done for new drugs is inadequate, and the result is a barrage of television commercials for class action lawsuits. Most of these studies have used statistics to prove a desired result, and the long term results are not known until a long time after approval. Aspirin has been around for a long time, and its effects are well known. The statistical studies are used to validate the hypothesis. This is how science works. Physical evidence not scholarly consensus is used as validation.

  118. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    You said this, which is absolutely a right wing way to wave away science:

    “Scholarly consensus” is used to validate theology not science, and those defying the “scholarly consensus” tend to have an unpleasant life. Many are regarded as crackpots, and some are declared heretics.

  119. Buzz Buzz says:

    @legion:

    Inside The Hive ™:

    @Septimius: Hey, you know what we don’t have a huge problem with in the continental US, even though we don’t use DDT to kill mosquitoes? Malaria! Try another strawman.

    In the real world:
    How the United States defeated Malaria

    So in the late 1940’s, the U.S. government launched a malaria eradication program focused on the South. National, state, and local officials drained swamps and wiped out other mosquito breeding grounds. They also sprayed the insecticide DDT inside every southern home.

    Historian Margaret Humphreys says most people welcomed the spraying of DDT.

    Humphreys: “It was hyped in newspapers and popular magazines. This was the atomic bomb of insect warfare. And the DDT didn’t just kill mosquitoes. It killed fleas and bed bugs and cock roaches, and people loved it.”

    Humphreys says people who may have had some initial reservations about the campaign were won over after hearing their neighbors sing the praises of DDT. And by 1949 — just a few years after the eradication campaign started — the United States was declared malaria-free. Malaria still crops up here from time to time, but these sporadic cases are the result of travelers bringing the disease back from overseas.

  120. TastyBits says:

    @john personna:

    If what i write fits your stereotypes, that is your problem. You have prejudged me, but as I said, it is not the first time on this board. I limit my comments to non-political topics – foreign policy, race, science, etc., but I usually get dragged into a political fight. I am not interested in your or anybody’s partisan positions, and you can keep your prejudices also.

    I try to be philosophically consistent and intellectually honest. Unfortunately. these are not highly regarded on this board. I believe there is a Wikipedia article about attacking the person instead of the person’s argument. I am sure one of the link hounds can provide it for you.

  121. john personna says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Faulty logic. Again, DDT kills mosquitoes, and other things. Pointing out again and again that it kills mosquitoes does not disprove that it kills other things. It doesn’t prove that it is the only way to kill mosquitoes. It doesn’t prove that there are no other ways to kill mosquitoes without injuring other things quite so badly.

    “DDT should be free” is a typically stupid anti-science argument from the right.

  122. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    You joined this thread to fault “Scholarly consensus.”

    You even “repeated” it for me, literally:

    For the hard sciences, I will repeat: “Scholarly consensus” is used to validate theology not science. Science uses the Scientific Method not Robert’s Rules of Order. Instruments, measurements, and standards are agreed upon, but this is the framework for science.

    Wear it.

  123. john personna says:

    Just to be a little more patient,

    The fact is that “Science uses the Scientific Method not Robert’s Rules of Order. Instruments, measurements, and standards are agreed upon, but this is the framework for science.”

    And what comes out of that is Scholarly Consensus.

    They are not separate nor in opposition. Scholarly Consensus moves as new “instruments, measurements, and standards are agreed upon: etc.

    When you join the right wing “consensus is theology” bullshit you do that scientific process a great disservice. You join people who don’t want to know that science achieved. They just want to reject it wholesale, as “theology.”

  124. TastyBits says:

    @john personna:

    Wear it.

    I have been subjected to stereotypes, and I have seen others subjected to stereotypes. Your branding me a conservative or member of the right wing is a joke. I would suggest that you reconsider trafficking in stereotypes. Most people who do are vile and disgusting.

    Just to be a little more patient,

    How condescending of you. I am impressed.

    The instruments, measurements, and standards are the tools used to validate a theory. As one theory is validated, it can be used for new or improved instruments, measurements, and standards . Carbon dating is based upon previously validated science not a vote. If the science supporting carbon dating collapses, carbon dating also collapses. (NOTE: This is the short version.)

    When you join the right wing “consensus is theology” bullshit you do that scientific process a great disservice. You join people who don’t want to know that science achieved. They just want to reject it wholesale, as “theology.”

    If I understand correctly, I am to reject objective criteria and replace it with subjective criteria. I am then to use the subjective criteria to combat other subjective criteria, and this will prove reality. Reality in the scientific realm is objective. Subjective reality is theology.

  125. john personna says:

    @TastyBits:

    If I understand correctly, I am to reject objective criteria and replace it with subjective criteria. I am then to use the subjective criteria to combat other subjective criteria, and this will prove reality. Reality in the scientific realm is objective. Subjective reality is theology.

    Pretzel logic. The fact is “consensus” is part of the scientific process and not actually at odds with it.

    It is only a crazy right wing meme that “consensus” is a red flag and “theology.”