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Confusing the Confused

One of the strategies used by opponents of health care reform is to throw out so many confusing things that people don’t know what to think. At the very least, this works to slow things down.

But it appears that some people actually believe some of the crazier things being thrown out there. A poll performed recently asked people the following question:

Do you think the government should stay out of Medicare?

Of course, it would be impossible for the government to stay out of Medicare — Medicare is run by the government!

But that didn’t stop 39% of people polled from answering Yes. And an additional 15% weren’t sure. Seriously, 54% of Americans have that tenuous a grasp on the facts surrounding health care reform.

Satirical Sign

(note that the person holding the sign in this photo was being satirical, but I couldn’t resist including it)



  1. Ira Ropson wrote:

    Does that mean he is being horny? I think you want satirical

    Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  2. Good Catch Ira! (*snickers*)

    Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    Ha ha ha.

    Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    Keep the government out of my military!

    Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Ahmet wrote:

    Are the people of the richest country in the world also the most ignorant?
    I used to think that health care reform was very crucial for the U.S. but having seen those town hall meetings, I think I changed my mind. I think Obama should first try to reform the education system in the U.S.

    Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Hmm, something is not right here.

    I just read a summary of the poll results. It said that 35% of respondents claim to have a graduate level education. At the same time, 36% claim to be politically conservative.

    In the first place, this poll has a serious over-representation of people with advanced education. Only 10% of the population has graduate level education according to the most recent US census survey.

    Also, real research (polls are not real research) has found that people with graduate level education self-identify mainly as liberal or moderate. Much research in political sociology has found that a solid, positive association between “liberal” attitudes and educational attainment. In short, the more education, the more likely you will have politically liberal positions and values.

    So, something is wrong here. Either I should be deeply depressed that so many of my over-educated peers are this ignorant of basic government functions and programs. Or, these pollsters managed to find a sample with the most unusual population characteristics: highly-educated, self-identified conservatives.

    Monday, September 7, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Doh! Satirical. That’s what I get for typing a post on a mobile phone while I was away from home over Labor Day.

    Monday, September 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  8. @Ironknee. Did you have to change it? The mistake was so wonderfully silly. đŸ˜‰

    Monday, September 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    Maybe I should have left the mistake in, and just claimed it was a feature, not a bug!

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 3:49 am | Permalink
  10. IronKnee. Perzactly! đŸ™‚

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 5:09 am | Permalink
  11. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    @Ahmet. Unfortunately, there are many ways to become the richest country in the world.

    @Starluna. I don’t believe you’ve considered the possibility that the highly-educated respondents and the self-identified conservative respondents are not the same respondents.

    Also, the way the question was worded probably confused some people and made it easier for others to lie, “Which of these categories best describes your education level? If you have some graduate or professional schooling after college, press 1. If you have a bachelor’s degree, press 2. If you attended some college, including community college, after high school press 3. If you are a high school graduate, press 4. If you did not graduate from high school, press 5.”
    (makes no mention of a post-graduate degree and almost sounds as though technical or vocational training qualifies as post-graduate education)

    Also, while you’re absolutely right about the established association between education level and political identity, it may help to remember that there were a disproportionate share of older people–nearly half were between the ages of 46 and 65–in this sample and that the highly-educated / liberal identity relationship begins to breaks down around that age range:

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink