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Duh… Young Americans’ Information about Public Affairs

- July 6, 2009

Debates continue in the political science journals, and even here at “The Monkey Cage,” about the role of information in political decisionmaking, from the political elite level down through the masses, and especially about the biases that can intrude between new information and attitude development and behavior change.

That’s all well and good, but every now and then we need to take a step back a step and recognize that in many instances the problem isn’t bias — it’s just good, plain old-fashioned ignorance: the difference between an open (unbiased) mind and an empty head.

This thought recurred to me today when a friend sent me this “greatest hits” clip from a segment Jay Leno apparently used to do on the “Tonight Show.” Never having watched that program, even once, this came as news to me. It’s a grand and depressing clip, highly suitable for classroom use. Enjoy. Or something.

[Hat tip to Marc Stern]

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