Tuesday, 31 August 2004

Believe it or not

You can tell your perceptual screens are kicking in at full throttle if you’re tempted to go out and verify that Kahneman and Tversky actually wrote what Mark Kleiman says they wrote.

Alas, my PDF of the original article (cited in my dissertation, no less) is not in front of me…

Druthers and all that

David Adesnik apparently misses a nuance in the position of the FRC:

On a related note, I’ve been meaning to post about the Family Research Council’s fortune cookies, which say offensive things like “Real Men Marry Women.”

That’s just disgusting. What does the FRC have to say about all of the gay soldiers in our armed forces, risking their lives for the United States of America? Are those men (and women) not “real enough”?

One suspects the FRC doesn’t want “all of the gay soldiers” to be in the armed forces in the first place, and would jump with glee if the whole lot of them were thrown out of the military. So, yeah, the FRC does think they’re not “real enough.”

ObDisclaimer: Signifying Nothing does not agree with the position of the Family Research Council on this—and perhaps any—issue.

The fuzziness of public opinion

Laura McKenna of 11D links and discusses an interesting New Yorker piece by Louis Menand on political scientists’ research on public opinion. It’s good as far as it goes (focusing largely on Converse, Fiorina, and Popkin), but I think it would help to have incorporated more recent research like Zaller’s Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion and Alvarez and Brehm’s Hard Choices, Easy Answers, not to mention the whole “affective intelligence” approach, all of which take issue—in important, but differing, ways—with the Conversian public incompetence thesis.

I’d also argue that Converse’s more important and lasting contribution was “Attitudes and Nonattitudes,” (1970) rather than “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,” since I think most contemporary political scientists who study public opinion would reject the concept of “constraint” as an indicator of political expertise or competence.