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Upper Valley Humanists Association Message Board › Election day special: "Low Information" Believers

Election day special: "Low Information" Believers

A former member
Post #: 24
One of my favorite newly popular expressions this season is "low information voter".

First of all it makes me wonder even more than I have in the past about the anti-modern question of whether there might be a level of ignorance about political matters that should disqualify one from voting. For example if you have the candidates transposed with each other in your mind should you vote? For myself, I generally abstain on, for example, ballot issues I am innocent of the reasons for unless their purpose as described on the ballot is crystal clear. But I do fear that very low information/very bad information voters are increasingly a majority, something De Tocquesville might not be surprised about.

Which brings me to the low information believer. Polls seem to indicate atheists generally know more about the popular religions than the adherents themselves. Just as I can imagine a system in which you are only allowed to vote on questions you can pass a basic quiz about, I can imagine a system in which you are only allowed to self-identify as a believer in a faith you can answer crucial questions about. In fact there are examples of this, such as the Confirmation process of the Catholic Church. But these are problematic because they are administered by the church.

Complicating things further, I know people who are determined to describe themselves as, for example, "Catholic", because they grew up with Catholicism, although they explicitly deny most or even all official doctrine. These might be described as low-belief believers.

It might be fun to have religious people design a sort of quiz one has to pass to call oneself a certified atheist while they have to pass a test atheists write to call themselves a certified religionist.
Matthew M.
user 35035282
Littleton, NH
Post #: 23
I think all three tests (religious, non-religious, and political) would all have the same problem. The questions would be skewed to get the results desired by the person writing it.
Gerald R. K.
user 61674422
Lebanon, NH
Post #: 4

"First of all it makes me wonder even more than I have in the past about the anti-modern question of whether there might be a level of ignorance about political matters that should disqualify one from voting. "

That cure would be worse than the disease, IMHO. It smacks of elitism and begs the question of just what "qualified" means in this regard. I see the problem not as low information voters, but rather as voters who don't process information well. The cure, I submit, would be to teach critical thinking in school. Acquaint students with selected philosophers from Plato to present day philosophers, say, so that the students will be exposed to analytical thought processes. Courses in philosophy and logic would instill bullshit detectors in students and obviate the need for politicians and product advertisements to talk down to them. The students would mature into voters who would be less likely to be influenced by slogans, wishful thinking, and pandering. In time, politicians would become an endangered species to be replaced with statesmen who would present argument to an electorate capable of reason uninfluenced by emotion. (I am not advocating indoctrination here. I'm advocating giving the electorate-to-be the tools with which to make reasoned decisions.)

As a practical matter, I think this would have to happen by attrition. I'm not holding my breath.
Catha L.
catha
Hanover, NH
Post #: 25
"It smacks of elitism and begs the question of just what 'qualified' means in this regard."

True. But we can still dream about it the same way I dream about requiring a license to become a parent. Or at least some mandatory basic training! Never gonna happen though....
A former member
Post #: 25
We are clearly on the same wavelength, parent licensing is one of my favorite daydreams.

As for tests for voting, I get that even basic civics and current events quizzes where the questions are known in advance could be abused or seen as "elitist", but the fact remains: many people are too ignorant to vote responsibly.

As a society the age requirement is the only way we acknowledge and control for this, but it's a very blunt instrument too. I've known 12 year olds who are a lot more savvy about politics than many adults.
Matthew M.
user 35035282
Littleton, NH
Post #: 24
Speaking of unlikely dreams...I have always thought that zero-population growth policies would be nice. I picture it as a voucher each person is born with. Have a child: you or your partner have to turn in a voucher. Vouchers can be sold if you want. Have a child without having a voucher? There is a fine and an operation (on the parents, not the child). You dont receive your voucher until a certain age (this could tie into your licensing classes). That prevents parents from using their children's vouchers. Want a dozen kids? Adopt.
Gerald R. K.
user 61674422
Lebanon, NH
Post #: 5
Matthew's voucher system reminds me of a remedy my cousin Gerard espoused many years ago before Star Trek in a land south of New Hampshire and north of Cape Cod. Gerard thought the state should require all pre-pubescent males to have a valve surgically implanted in the vas deferens. It would be closed to prevent the passage of sperm. Upon reaching sexual maturity, those males wishing to father a child would petition the state for permission. Upon presenting evidence that he was financially able to support a child and that he was of good moral character, he would be issued a license that would permit a doctor to turn the valve on for twenty-eight days.

As draconian as Gerard's tongue in cheek solution was, I have to say that I was enchanted by it's sentiment. In this post Star Trek era, however, I envision a modern version. Surely there is a doctor named Bones out there somewhere who can point a zap gun at the male groin and painlessly toggle sperm production on or off. I would be in favor of the modern version of Gerard's solution.

Gerry
Cindy B.
CindyBlakeslee
Bradford, VT
Post #: 18
Love the low-population ideas! I started working in the population (sic) field in the late 60's, but it seems to have fizzled out other than in China (ha!) and in some third world countries. We have this rather idiotic notion that we (the U.S.) can handle all of the population thrown at us (it increases the capitalistic-revenue-producing base, after all), without regard for resources.

A few more SuperStorms on our coastlines may challenge the wisdom of our ignorance and blind-eyed policies. I can only wish.

Sorry to get so off topic, but this one is near and dear to me.
Cindy B.
CindyBlakeslee
Bradford, VT
Post #: 19
Oh, and yes, parent certification would be spectacular. When I think of what a difference it would have made in my life it's both very sad and amazing. I'm sure that's the case for alot of people.

Low information (or bad information, a la religion) on any topic is obviously an impediment to progress.
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