Are you smarter than a survey respondent?Blog added by Paul Wilson on February 25, 2011
Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson

Denver, CO

Joined: May 30, 2007

My Company


A recent survey from Kaiser Health found that one in five Americans mistakenly believe that federal health care reform is no longer law.

Twenty-two percent of respondents believe the law has been repealed, while 26 percent aren’t sure.

Now, we’ve all seen Leno’s “Jaywalking” interviews, where he playfully exposes the ignorance of average people on the street by asking them questions ranging from basics included on citizenship tests to the color of the White House. It’s always entertaining to scoff at others’ lack of knowledge (at least as long as we’re not the one staring into the camera’s eye.) And there are plenty of studies out there disproving commonly held beliefs about everything from cold remedies to the relationship between long term care and Medicare.

But wouldn’t you think that when it comes to a topic as divisive and well-publicized as health care reform, most people would have a little better idea of what’s going on? After all, you can’t turn on the television or grab a cup of coffee these days without hearing someone waxing eloquent on the topic.

Not necessarily. A survey from a few years ago found that the majority of Americans lack even basic knowledge when it comes to politics. According to political blogger Jonathan Bernstein, for those who closely follow politics, “it’s hard to imagine just how little the median American knows about the day-to-day events that we pay so much attention to.” He adds that most people retain information (whether true or not) from a variety of sources ranging from news headlines to conversations around the water cooler, but many don’t actively research the facts.

We’re bombarded with so much information these days that I guess it really shouldn’t be too shocking that people can’t always keep the facts straight. But in some cases, misinformation can have a significant impact. As mentioned here, the results from the Kaiser Health poll could be a bad sign for the Obama administration as it continues its attempt to counteract recent Republican campaigns against the legislation.
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