The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

US ignorance on Iraq: an even worse problem for news

A handy poll (PDF) on US public understanding of Iraq-related facts just issued place in context the Jack Kelley affair, anonymous sources and other controversies in journalism earnestly discussed here and in many other places besides.

The numbers themselves (on Saddam-Al Qaida links and on WMD) are no surprise; but having them wrapped in a bow prompts wider questions. Not only on the efficacy of journalism to get across basic facts on vital national issues. But also on the effect of public ignorance on government.

(The issue of the MMR vaccine in the UK springs to mind on the latter point.)

I've pointed out before (December 10 2003) that around half of Americans believe in Creationism and a JFK assassination conspiracy (not necessarily the same half!) - and the presence of so many looney-tunes hasn't utterly snafu'd the country. A tribute to the Founding Fathers' deadlock default in the Constitution?

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