Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Unseen Crisis

The Tarrance Group's Battleground poll, which was one of the most accurate in the 2004 presidential election, is now the George Washington University Battleground poll. Run by Republican Ed Goeas and Democrat Celinda Lake, it has a reputation for objectivity.

They run internal polls and questionnaires as well, to help them understand the final numbers better. One month ago their questionnaire included a ranking of what issues people considered most important. (scroll down the pdf to page 5). 1% of Americans thought the mortgage crisis was the most important issue, and another 2% thought it was the second-most important issue.

There were similar numbers in August 2001 for who thought terrorism was the most important issue. We think we know the world, and build narratives to explain it to ourselves. I read a transcript of a Hillary Clinton interview today, a reporter trying to nail her on her husband's contribution to the financial crisis. She reverted immediately to stock answers, claiming that it is the Republican world-view that hates all regulation that led to this. I wondered if this is just cynical manipulation of media, or is she no better off than the rest of us, retreating in fear to a comforting narrative?

Anyway, it's straight out of The Black Swan. A turkey collects data for a thousand days showing that humans want turkeys to be healthy, protected, and well-fed. The turkey becomes increasingly convinced of humanity's good will toward turkeys, and that confidence is in fact at a maximum the day before the turkey's head is cut off.

1 comment:

Der Hahn said...

If I can play Jr AVI, I find it useful to keep two things in mind during a 'crisis'.

All media, including 'news' shows, exists to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. Delivering accurate information to viewers is a secondary objective.

There are always people around who think they will be able to build a better building out of the rubble.