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Information Diet

The Big Idea for Friday, March 15, 2013

Last week Steven Mazie brought our attention to a video that documented the extent of Americans' lack of awareness of the extent of income inequality. So what is the reason for this? As Mazie points out, we can blame weak civics curricula, partisan propaganda and the misplaced priorities of the mainstream media.

And yet, Mazie asks, how exactly would we expect anyone to develop "an intuitive, educated layman’s idea about America’s wealth distribution?" We can all Google how many hundreds of millions of dollars Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has if we're curious, but why would we keep that kind of information around in our heads all the time?

Similarly, we should not expect the average Joe or Jane "to have a clue about how much the federal government spends on foreign aid, the military, or entitlements." While it is important to the civic health of our country that citizens should be able to make fairly accurate estimates of these numbers, it is a bit unreasonable to expect people to instantly produce this information for a pollster on the phone. 

After all, average Americans are simply busy with jobs, school and their families, and invest their time accordingly. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Why Are Americans So Ignorant?
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  2. 2 Are You Living in an Elitist Bubble? Take the Quiz
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  3. 3 Paul Krugman on the Income Gap
    Paul Krugman
  4. 4 Why Do Americans Tolerate Extreme Wealth Inequality?
    Steven Mazie Praxis
 

Information Diet

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