Giuliani's Low Information Signals
In the 2004 election, the great majority of voters didn't deliberate the specific policy positions of the candidates and then make an informed choice. Instead, in order to make up their minds, the miserly public relied heavily on "low information signals" such as likability and perceived character.
In their analysis of the election, James Carville and Paul Begala conclude that the Bush team correctly realized that a few themes could frame the election in their favor. The central themes went something like this:
If he doesn't live your life, share your values, or is someone you would want to have a beer with, then he shouldn't be your President.
The point I make in our Speaking Science 2.0 tour is that relative to complex and controversial science topics such as climate change, the public engages in a similar form of low information rationality, relying heavily on their ideology and partisanship in combination with just those images most readily available in the media. The implication is that when it comes to public communication about science, there is nothing essentially unique from other areas of politics.
As the 2008 election nears, a similar low information calculus will be applied to the roster of presidential candidates. Gallup picks up on this in a survey released today. Gallup asked the public in an open ended question:
Next, suppose Rudy Giuliani is elected president in 2008. In your view, what would be the best or most positive thing about a Rudy Giuliani presidency? [Anything else?]
The top answers all play on low information signals related to character, leadership style, likability, or perceived ideological stance.
Good on terrorism/security
Decisive/takes charge/gets things done
Good on economy/fiscal conservative
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Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.
- Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
- The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
- The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
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