Monday, October 13, 2008

More idiots

I typically put my head in the sand when it comes to elections, and then I vote for whichever party I think has a chance of winning that has the most socially liberal policies. This past few months however, I've been trying to read up more often on what's going on, who's supporting what and who I agree with.

Mostly, I've just come to realize how dumb most people really are. I mean, people are suggesting that same sex marriages aren't good for society and then they have the audacity to suggest that this is a biological claim not at all rooted in religious bigotry [3]. Then I find out that the average republican, when presented with evidence that proves their viewpoint is wrong, tends to more strongly believe in the viewpoint [2]! And governments are taught that to stay in power they need to pander to these same idiots because they're the ones who are voting [1].

It's a depressing situation to me. The average person can't be bothered to actually inform themselves on a subject. More importantly, many of the ones who are against progressive, effective policies are prone to more strongly fight against them when scientific research is shown which proves them wrong! How can we be expected to fight this? In Canada they ask for stronger criminal penalties, because in their uninformed opinions this will reduce crime, even though there is ample evidence that it doesn't work [1]. We tried it out in the 19th and 20th Century and it didn't work, so we explicitly avoided it in future laws because we knew it doesn't work. And what happens now? Our government suggests it again because they know that it will win them votes and that's all that matters in today's democracy.

Personally, I'm beginning to more and more believe that the average person is not born with enough brain power or common sense to deserve the right to vote and that democracy is generally busted in its current form. There. I really said it. I know that will be a contentious statement but think about it. If people can't be bothered to inform themselves of what the experts say, and if they can't be bothered to understand that these experts are _actually_ smarter than them and if they can't be bothered to understand that these experts aren't just spouting off opinion but rather that there is truth in what the experts claim, then how can I trust that these same people to vote intelligently.

There are enough issues that aren't actually clear cut, don't have a history of proof, nor a wealth of experts backing it to make elections interesting. We don't need pandering politicians catering to the uninformed voters to further muddy the water.

So what do we do? How do we fix it? What can I do? Voting in the past 2 elections hasn't helped, I live in a riding that always (in a landslide) supports the politicians who are suggesting these backwards, uninformed policies.

[1] - http://ffwdweekly.com/article/news-views/news/harper-youth-justice-policy-not-grounded-in-eviden/
[2] - http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2008/09/the_backfire_effect.html
[3] - http://www.abetterkindofangry.com/2008/10/gah-are-people-really-this-stupid.html

4 comments:

Dan McKinley said...

It is odd that anyone would make the "biology" claim, when anyone with even slight familiarity with biology should be able to tell you that in many animals sex is a social as well as reproductive behavior and homosexuality can be positively selected for for that reason. This is particularly true in humans and other apes (see: bonobos).

I was personally going to wait to read the source material on [2] before repeating it. Not that the one-sidedness of this doesn't sound "truthy" to me. It's just that this wouldn't be the first time that a clueless journalist or editor didn't read the whole paper and slapped a title on an article that, ironically, demonstrates the premise in an unexpected way.

I am not ready to throw in the towel on representative government, but it is increasingly clear to me that (in the US at least) we will have to accept that the Constitution is not a perfect document and that we need additional structural protections from the wealthy, from religions, and from what now amounts to a constitutional dictatorship. Of course the idea that the framers were imperfect is not likely to catch fire anytime soon, and depending on the specific conditions things could go the other direction in very bad ways.

Lakin Wecker said...

I should probably read the source material on [2] as well. If you get around to it, please let me know if it's something that has truth to it, or if it's a journalist getting it wrong.

Steve said...

After reading your post I couldn't hold this quote back!

"The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter." -Winston Churchill

Lakin Wecker said...

Thanks Steve - that's a great quote.