Political understanding

There is an interesting article over at NPR describing how when asked to explain their own strong opinions, confronted by their own ignorance of the issues, people generally end up moderating their own opinions:

Should the United States impose unilateral sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program? Should we raise the retirement age for Social Security? Should we institute a national flat tax? How about implementing merit-based pay for teachers? Or establishing a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions?

The striking implication, for which the researchers find support, is that getting people to appreciate their own ignorance can be enough to rein in strong opinions.

What’s funny to me is that so many people never get past the mental knee-jerk; I’ll call these people knee-jerks from now on. It’s like what someone famous once said: “I may not understand what you say, but I will defend to the death what you mean when you say it.”

I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.

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