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40% of Americans only believe Dear Leader

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40% of Americans only believe Dear Leader

by digby

A depressing read if you care about the future of democracy:

In a sharply divided country, here’s something many Americans agree on: It’s hard to know what’s a true and honest fact.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and USA Facts finds that regardless of political belief, many Americans say they have a hard time figuring out if information is true. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they often come across one-sided information and about 6 in 10 say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources.

“It is difficult to get facts. You have to read between the lines. You have to have a lot of common sense,” said Leah Williams, 29, of Modesto, California. A Republican, Williams says she relies on like-minded friends and family to help sort through conflicting information. “There are wolves in sheep’s clothing everywhere.”

The poll found that 47% of Americans believe it’s difficult to know if the information they encounter is true, compared with 31% who find it easy to do so. When deciding whether something is factual, there is widespread consensus on the importance of transparency in how the information was gathered and if it is based on data. Democrats and Republicans alike frequently find the process challenging.

But as a president with a history of making false statements and repeating debunked conspiracy theories faces public hearings this week in only the fourth impeachment inquiry in the nation’s history, the poll finds that differing political beliefs led Americans down different paths as they try to determine what’s a unquestionable fact.

Here’s the problem:

Democrats are more likely to say they rely on scientists and academics, while Republicans are more likely to trust what they hear from President Donald Trump.

“When I hear him on Fox News — that’s where I get all my information,” said Al Corra, a 48-year-old Republican from Midland, Texas. Trump, he said, is the easiest way to cut through an otherwise confusing information environment.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to put a great deal of trust in the president’s statements, 40% to 5%. Overall, a majority of Americans (61%) have little to no trust in information about the government when it comes from Trump,

Corra said he distrusts academics as too “liberal” and he’s not alone in that regard among Republicans. More Democrats than Republicans say they consider something to be factual if it’s been verified by scientists — 72% versus 40% — as well as academics — 57% versus 30%.

These people have been brainwashed. I don’t know how else to explain it. If they believe that orange conman is the font of all truth and wisdom they are so deluded I’m not sure they can be reached.

The following is a much more normal way to assess truth, not because scientists and academics are always right but because they have had to demonstrate some ability to learn and have become experts in their fields.

Donald Trump, by contrast, is a pathological liar.

Scott Austin, a Democrat from Aurora, Colorado, says he generally trusts scientists, but checks their affiliations carefully because he believes fraudulent information abounds. “If I see something that some scientist from Stanford says, I’ll believe that because it’s Stanford,” he said.

Austin, a 52-year-old Army veteran, says he has to ping-pong from website to website to try to verify facts and has found himself increasingly skeptical of government information. Like 54% of Americans, he believes the president has a lot of sway over the information distributed by the government, and that’s made him increasingly skeptical given his lack of trust in what Trump says to be true.

“I never had a problem trusting the government under Democratic or Republican administrations — until this administration,” Austin said.

Close to half of Americans — 45% — also think members of Congress have a lot of influence on information that comes from the government, while just 3 in 10 say the same of federal agency employees.

When it comes to assessing whether information is factual, at least three-quarters of Americans think it’s very important for it to be accurate, and that sources provide all relevant information and explain the way that information was gathered. Smaller majorities say the information should include opposing viewpoints and be devoid of opinion.

About 6 in 10 say they are very likely to consider information factual if it is based on data.

Many Americans say they rely on government websites, as well as news sources and social media, to get information. In total, 54% say they get information about the government from social media at least once a day, 52% say that about local TV news, 50% from national TV news networks and 47% from cable news. About 6 in 10 also say they have used government websites to look up information.

And yet, poll found widespread skepticism about these sources — majorities say they have little to no confidence in information they get about the government from social media, the president, members of Congress and businesses.

This is the point, I think. The right thrives in an atomosphere where there is a chaotic information stream.

I don’t know where this is going. It’s not good to place all your trust in authorities whether religious, government or academic. But many people just yearn to do that and that’s where authoritarians and demagogues like Trump get over.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !