Bob Cohn over at The Atlantic has an article describing how we are divided as a country, perhaps more divided than ever. It's got graphs and everything.
Well, not quite everything. The article doesn't actually provide much evidence that we are divided, or what we're divided about, or whether it was really worse in 1980 or 1880 or 1780. It mostly just asks whether people think so. For example, most knuckleheads - uh, I mean respondents - believe that gun control is the most divisive issue in the country. I suggest this is because the issue has been in the news more recently, so at a surface level it is one of the first things that comes to mind. It is also, I would contend not coincidentally, not an economic issue, such as unemployment, debt, spending - and therefore a topic that many media sources would prefer to focus on.
Well, disagree with that part if you wish, it's not central to my argument. It's the seeking of opinions rather than facts that gets dangerous. Ask yourself: would a majority opinion on whether global warming has reversed, and whether it is more related to sunspots than CO2, change the actual temperature even 0.1 degree? (Celsius or Fahrenheit, your choice.) So too with asking a consensus on whether we are politically divided or not. It's only mildly related to the reality.
The reality, however, requires thought, effort, objectivity, and research. Apparently that's a little daunting for Cohn.