Framing and the Low Information Voter

In an attempt at calm discussion, ScienceBlogling Chris Mooney is trying to explore some of the issues around framing. With that in mind, I want to raise one unacknowledged ‘axis of argument’: the extent to which various sides in the debate are willing to have the ranks of science supporters filled by complete fucking moronslow information content supporters. I don’t mean informed non-scientists, I mean flat-out ignoramuses. For example, consider this story about the Clinton-Obama race set in Hazelton, PA:

A couple blocks east, at Jimmy’s Quick Lunch, Clinton’s the favorite of many regulars.
“I like her backup man,” said retired machinist Ronald Duser, referring to former President Bill Clinton. “And her family’s from Scranton. She seems to be an honest person, just like my wife.”
Of Obama, Duser said: “I’m not crazy about voting for a colored guy, but that’s not why I don’t support Obama. I’m not prejudiced. I just like Hillary.”
A couple tables over, Jean Fetterman, a foster grandparent, said of Clinton: “Oh, I love her. She’s a very intelligent person, and she has her husband who went through this.”
She scoffs at the idea of voting for Obama: “I don’t want to be a Muslim!” She looks dubious when told Obama is Christian. “Then why did he go see what’s-his-name over in Iraq, that Lama?”
She isn’t clear about whom she means. She may have seen a photo of Obama wearing traditional clothing during a visit to Africa. “I don’t care what color he is, I don’t care if he’s pink,” she said. “I don’t think he’s got the same education Hillary has, and he’s so young. He’s arrogant, too.”
Rosella Sheppard, 62, plans to support McCain because she’s a Republican, and her son, who’s in the National Guard, will leave for Iraq in the fall. “I’m not a war person, but I do feel we need to address the terrorists,” she said.

I understand why one would be willing to have these morons’ votes, but I wouldn’t be proud of it.
A serious concern is that if there is too much knowledge sacrificed in the name of short-term political expediency, then this hurts subsequent framing in the long run (which is one of the concerns I think PZ has).

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7 Responses to Framing and the Low Information Voter

  1. dd says:

    A better question, is how to get the idiots to not vote. Geez.

  2. Jim Thomerson says:

    When I voted in the primaries, I voted for a number of positions where I had no idea who or why. I could have not voted, but I figured I was part of the white noise of voters like my self, which is random and cancels out. This leaves the issue to be decided by the six people who actually know something, and no harm is done. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  3. “A serious concern is that if there is too much knowledge sacrificed in the name of short-term political expediency, then this hurts subsequent framing in the long run….”
    I might add that it harms the success of the campaign in the long run. I think I have a decent understanding of “framing,” but I’ve also seen research on the perception of credibility that the framists haven’t cited. I’m not confident that some of the specific science framing ideas that have been proposed protect the long-term credibility of the (pro-reality, pro-science) movement.

  4. Pineyman says:

    I grew up in that area and I can tell you these are not isolated opinions. You don’t have to go far there to run into this. Everyone hates everyone else. Unfortunately, people with the slightest bit of an open mind usually move out of the area at the first chance. I did and I’ve never regretted it.
    You’ve really depressed me on a rainy Friday….

  5. Given the longer term view, I have to wonder is it really religion that is the problem with Americans acceptance of evolution? Are we focussing on the wrong thing. As you have noted, the Christian Right had origins in the segregationist movement. They are the ones who have done most of the push to get evolution out of our schools and framed the issues. I know my future mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law have issues with evolution not because of religion (their minister has told them evolution is a fact, that is the way the world works) but because to quote the grandmother “I am not related to those people” (those people would be non-whites). She sometimes interchanges “those people” with apes (this is after noting all humans share a common ancestry and not mentioning our relationship with other apes). Given the racist equating of Blacks as “less than human” and referring to them as apes, could we be missing the code when people raise their “religious” concerns about use sharing a common ancestor with other great apes?
    By the focus on framing it in religious friendly terms, are we just spinning our wheels instead of addressing the more underlying reason? Race.

  6. Ponderingfool: wow. you might be right. I grew up in the deep south and such feelings of hostility and discontent for people of color is still so real for many persons of palor in the south. My undergrad college was in a small town, half an hour away from an “all-white”county with deep and open ties to the KKK. We call those types of towns “sun-down towns” in the south, because you’d better have your black or brown a** out of town before the sun goes down. I can’t tell you how many times people would just stare, mouths open and all, whenever a group of black kids -from the college- would walk in an establishment. It was worse if it was a big group going to a restaturant or something. You’d hear all kinds of monkey or jungle or ape or other “less than human” mumbling comments come from them.
    If it’s more about race and not evolution — that makes even harder to tackle. There are legions of serious right wingers who honestly believe that persons of color -especially blacks and mexicans (the group term for all latins, hispanics, and even native americans) are just inferior. Anything that places everyone in the same human family would just kill them. (let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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