It’s What We Know that Isn’t So

This chart, from YouGov provides examples of things where the general perception differs greatly from reality.  Still, there are some subjects where I suspect the polls are flawed – several times I have denied gun ownership to telephone pollsters.  Still, the small proportion of labor union membership surprises me – but I grew into adulthood in Lincoln County during the late sixties – a time when the county was largely union and democrat . . . and it shocked me to see a single-party ballot in 2022.

Ronald Reagan said “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”  He was right – but our Conservative friends also know a lot that isn’t so.  It’s the problem of making decisions based on ideology . . . confirmation bias steps in.

The numbers above are, in general, at the national level – I suspect the number of lefties is about the same at the county level as at the national level, while there is a great difference in the percentage of first-generation immigrants between California (the highest percentage) and Montana (one of the lowest percentages).

NBC offers some numbers that show how details can change the perspective:

The chart is developed from PEW data, and as I look through the rest, it illustrates that sometimes we need more data to better understand what is happening, and to whom.

This one is even more skewed than it looks – remember from the first chart, about 12% of Americans are black.  The next chart shows homicides versus suicides.  The numbers fit in with Durkheim’s century-old theory explaining suicide – and show that, excepting black Americans, the shooter and the victim are frequently the same individual.

Looking at school shootings, PEW data gives yet a different perspective:

Click on the link, read the NBC article.  Sometimes, even if we know what the correct numbers are, we draw erroneous conclusions.

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