by Nelson Abreu
As we approach the end of the presidential campaign in the U.S., voters appear largely polarized, often holding strong opinions on which leader and set of policies are best. Given the complexity of many of the issues, it is a pity that the media coverage has been dominated by short assertion sound bites, rather than in-depth dialogue and analysis amonh more exempt experts that break down the issues and choices.
A recent study ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/opinion/sunday/why-partisans-cant-explain-their-views.html?_r=0 ) confirms that once individuals are required to explain the details of their policy positions, the illusion of depth of understanding tends to vanish, often leading to a partial or complete change of opinion. It turns out most of us think we are policy wonks, until we are truly put to the test.
Another study ( http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2004/feature_ackerman_janfeb04.msp ) has revealed that we tend to answer polls, decisively agreeing or disagreeing, even on non-existing legislation, for example. I.e., few simply admitted ignorance. Answers could also be biased by stating whether someone of their party affiliation agreed or disagreed with the fictious legislation. This finding puts into question any polling that is not preceded by in-depth research and dialogue.
As we approach election day, we are reminded that democracy is a work in progress and hope it can become more influenced by reason than passions and special interests.
Nelson Abreu, B.S. Electrical Engineering, is a volunteer at International Academy of Consciousness - Los Angeles Educational Center