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Death Panel If You Do, Death Panel If You Don't

Update: 2017-02-22


Sarah, Ezra, and Matt talk fake news, town hall protests, and research on why your cell phone bill is so high.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

sponsored by The Great courses plus get your first four months free backbone of the great courses plus that calms the Swedes who is also sponsored by Club w personalize one Club now called weak twenty house often complimentary shipping going to try winked at com slash weeds and major boxes weeds Fanny get fifty percent off your first order of Major backstop com slash weeds the following podcast contains explicit language agave has with his tongue like classic like and how awesome Hello welcome to another city the weeds but his policy podcast up at the network that Yglesias to my colleague Sara Clifton Ezra Klein morning I hear Hello wouldn't have made the town halls that are happening or not happening all across America this week to talk about white paper that made me angry to feel some things he was like This is kind of like if you know if populism was a and b our research I think it would be this paper before that I kinda wanted a little bit off the particulars of the news cycle to talk about fake news I was inspired by you believe if you don't believe me that I asked Yeah this is fate this is a fake topic yeah I can prove it but I spoke to some people over the weekend and they were very concerned as I think a lot of left of center people have become that all this fake news out there is the reason that election outcomes that they don't approve of has occurred and that it's like a really big problem and it needs a solution that we as a society are like failing to produce a civic Lee educated group of people who are knowledgeable and correctly informed and therefore who will vote for good candidates who who do good things and as a as a media person I think it is definitely true that the way social sharing works on the Internet has meant that sort of deliberately fake news stories are like a thing you can do now in a way that was very marginal and in the past but at the same time I think it is truly and profoundly wrong to think that when good things happened in American politics that was because of a super well informed super engage cynically minded citizenry and that is also bad wrong to think that when when things you don't approve of happened it's because of these these fake stories I think you're going to like paradigm add a sort of like fake news stories and he think about it for a low but you can see that's right like the most popular fake news story of the twenty sixteen campaign was one that said that the pope had endorsed Donald Trump now yes yourself like Did that really move people's votes you're imagining a devout Catholic who wasn't so sure about Donald Trump then they read this story from a dodgy website that was like oh the pump and or strap to their next step is not to like check and see if that's true see what other bishops have been saying about Donald Trump asked the priest about this I even isn't unusual for the pope to do an endorsement of presidential campaign but instead know just like blindly twice on Facebook so now I love Donald Trump right and that's ridiculous like nobody does that the reason the story like that get shared is that a lot of white Catholics like Donald Trump and so when they saw a story that just sort of was pleasing to their Donald Trump support they're inclined to go share and the other way around that story specifically that he shared a lot shared by a lot of liberals who don't like Donald Trump who are either some people should because it was fake like this is a fake news story stop sharing it was one thing that was happening and then but another thing that happened with a lot of the sharing are on a particular story was people pissed that the pope saying look all these religious people are hypocrites there's a lot of the stories that when you see them go super viral day they're not always going viral among the people of stories meant to reach the summit is going viral around the opposite group of people who are most angered by the story way Denny a new look at a story that I was not fake news but I think was like wrong on slate before before the election had this like Alpha Bank story right there right Donald Trump had a secret server and you know that God shared around the lot by Hillary Clinton fans who are like Hi we're going to read the Knowledge of unseen good server that was connected to the sequencer in Russia way just yet anyways we shared a lot by people who were criticizing it we shared a lot by people who already believe that Donald Trump a lot of nefarious connections to Russia I think of all the different like motivation is that people share stories like this they were previously undecided but changed their mind about the election because this story was so compelling and then they had to go share it with their friends who were also undecided is like far and away the least plausible reason that anybody would share alike incendiary story about politics whether whether its like fake or real or any kind like hot taken an opinion page or like anything at all I could just decide how people work and how media consumption although more credit because we get into this to that fake news warriors and I think you're giving them a good think you're right that like it's not like you see one story likely shed like the Pope in Norse Donald Trump are like Donald Trump of a secret bank and then all of a sudden you like flip from like supporting Clinton is supporting trumpeter like off your couch like getting ready to vote I don't think it's like Agri like that's like a very silly theory of how this works it does seem like more plausible to me that that kind of larger effect of seeing lots and lots of this like repeated over and over again like living in this universe they think the Wall Street Journal are really great interactive piece this year I think all the red v blue field looking at what your Facebook feed looks like if you're someone who tends the liberal or tends to be democratic and it seems actually quite plausible to me that there is a possibility of living in that sphere of that affecting how you think about the candidates a m Leon them on the margins of acting like who decides to go vote or not I think you're right I don't think it's like flipping people from Clinton to Trump or Trump to Clinton in any way but when I think about turnout of people getting excited and energized to vote that that's that I think that's a more generous and fair reading of the argument of why this might matter that it could be seeing it in aggregate sing at all the time it could be enough to just to get some people to decide to vote to decide to be more active in a way they wouldn't of been if we were like absence make me let me try to cut this in a different direction and it speaks to that great Wall Street Journal read Facebook the verses bu Facebook the future I think people when they consider what are the sorts of polarization that matter in media diets they tend to think of the red blue conservative Liberal Republican Democrat polarization and the sort of imagine if you're a political junkie and if you're listening to the Show Your a political junkie extrapolate out from themselves and their Facebook feed is full of politics assume everybody's Facebook feed is full of politics and so he say like people are seeing tons of the stuff in the aggregate is very intense the most important I think polarization around news consumption in politics is not red versus blue it's interested person interested we're we're we're weirdos we're strange human beings who even at times of politics is not that interesting I mean I think a lot of people are super guai Gia politics right now but we are super engaged with it during you know two years ago just like whatever Paul Ryan Brock Obama were due in two years ago and most people just aren't like that and so and to their Facebook feeds Mark Zuckerberg had the six thousand word Facebook manifesto out of the weekend was actually pretty interesting in and spoke to the fake new stuff and weighs maybe want to get into but he did make this point that the overwhelming majority of what people are saying or Facebook feeds non political thank you to look into normal Facebook feed its pictures of kids it's your friend's posting weird stuff I mean there's some stuff from your friends are political but it's mostly not the people seeing the most political stuff are the people whose minds are the most made up the Reese and they are political junkies is because they are in very invested in whether Team rather keen who wins maybe the very invested for reasons of substance is a policy they really care about their staunchly pro life or they really care about health care for all maybe it's just because they have sports teams like allegiance to it their dad was a Democrat or dad's dad was a Democrat in their doubts done dad was a Democrat but they're not going to be persuaded by anything basically and this is one of the reasons I think a lot of our models of how people absorb information in politics don't work how a thing about this in Presidential speeches very It is the most common trope in journalism in punditry in cable news talk that it whenever somebody wants something to happen it's just like why does the president gave a speech why doesn't the present come out and say the thing that I've written in my head that I would say if I were president today and the answer was you the president has said that or some version of that the professional speech writers thought would be better but then when you look at presidential speeches and the ratings and who listens the ratings were not that high for most of them very very low in fact most of don't even get covered live by even cable news models Network News and the people who do tune in are extremely polarized what they already believe in something like state OF THE Union which is of the big speech event of the year most people who tune in to that tune in because they're interested in politics there's some folks who tune in for a civic duty reason that that's a rare one that maybe breaks are a little bit but even there most people tune in are to have their minds made up just one reason I think it's very hard for fake news or real news or any kind of news to change anybody's mind is that the people absorbing it it's not even whether their red or blue it's there already into politics and because Hardy into politics they are pretty strongly held opinions as I would ask everybody listening to this podcast right now it is really ask themselves What is the last time they read something and it truly changed their pain is not about a small thing about politics but a big thing like change their opinion about which party they should vote for in the election or change their part their opinion about whether major public policy is good or bad I'm not saying you can't ever find examples of Ed look forward to the emails about it I think people will find it's rarer than they think it is depressing for me because I feel like I'm always writing things I hope to be persuasive but I know and someone persuading nobody of nothing I think the flipside of that like to correct the plans making earlier like if we ask our listeners when was the last time like something got two more active and more involved unlike decided to go to a town hall or donate to something like that seems like the possible neck and mechanism that this stuff matters and that there's a lot of people listening to this cool say like three weeks ago when there was this Muslim travel ban I think that still strikes me is like a plausible mechanism that we're talking about and intensity of fact a good desire like getting people actually organize around against people not changing their minds but that seems like the kind of mechanism that's more plausible to me the idea that they could get people more active and involved whether it's voting are donating either side I agree that that is a way that media does things but I mean I did start this by talking about specifically about freak news fight with which I do think is important distinction like social media filtering works even if if if Mark Zuckerberg had a magic device that made it impossible for any story that had any inaccuracies in it to be shared on Facebook that would revolutionize the media industry because it would kill off all fake news sites it would get us all hiring fact checkers things would have to slow down alot I don't believe that that would all change politics because the people who were in red or blue heavily politicized filter bubbles would still be in it it is entirely possible I could have written every day two stories a day that were completely true and reflected poorly on Hillary Clinton and like I like Tiller I just like I didn't do that because like that's out like my job to do it's on her it wouldn't have liked work with the Vox audience I don't think it would have been informative but it's like the reason filtering is weird and was an editorial decision making matters a lot is that like the total universe of accurate assertions about an individual is like nearly infinite rate and so I think something in the campaign that matter lie was that the FBI inquiry into the question of whether or not that was inadvertently discussion of classified material on an email server that Hillary Clinton had set up in a private or as this blubber blahblahblah story was like treated is a really big deal where is like is Donald Trump being bribed by the Russian government was treated as like him who cares anything and since the election that has focused a lot you don't see much coverage of this now obscure or email classified information handling type controversy and there's a lot of concern about Donald Trump's shady ties to Russia there's a lot but nothing to do it like in accuracy is in in in stories and I think that though I think where people get hung up on the fake ness I think is wrong is in the belief that politics is like build up out of the facts or possibly wrong the facts and that information and misinformation are like constructing people's people's worldviews and I find very enlightening and a subject actually is if you just look at historical information about Americans educational attainment and you look like the nineteen forty census the average American had an eighth grade education at that point in time and this was a time that I think most liberals I think most of the people I met over the weekend who are worried about fake news like really excited about New Deal type politics right and you're talking about a country that was you know barely literate right people were not embracing New Deal policy is because they were sitting with like deep understanding of financial regulation and welfare state design in a way that has been lost an hour like the Beast cable news era it is almost certainly the case that today's much much much better educated American population immersed in digital technology like knows more stuff about what's happening in politics but like the situation is just different in a million different ways and when you think about what drives people in politics it's it's identity type issues and it's it's feelings you know like those airport protests write something Donald Trump did that was incidental to the substance of the whirling this was that they applied immediately so there were people like on airplanes in immediate jeopardy and it felt to people like you could show up unlike help like instantly right and that had a lot of I think like motivating force in like an understandable way like you have to go do this now people are in detention that any more prudent policy that I think they're eventually going to land on which is just like there's going be some rule enforced by consular officers in faraway countries you don't know anything about it was much more de mobilizing but that kind of thing is like it's it's not about facts and politics just never has the view was in the weeds you obviously you enjoy Mary the digital content editor into I think are really going to like The Great courses plus he gives you a fascinating video lectures taught by award winning experts and we want you to check it out too often we as listeners a full month of free video of course is going to sign up using our special URL The Great courses plus com slash Read about all kinds of formal logic if you miss that in college at history Russia if you want to know that he's taking the world but also something fun distracting like photography so I've been listening to economic history of the world it said I like economics and I like history but are actually not really sort of experience much economic history it's a very interesting the lands that sort of what are the big trends and one of the major forces that shape world events is very different from the kind of traditional politics focused at history type approaches our listeners that the first full month for free if you sign a better special URL The Great courses plus dot com slash weeds get your free month you're going to love it sort of degree courses plus that calms the Swedes as The Great courses plus dot com slash so in reading a book recently that I don't agree with everything everybody said I agree on on the possible mechanism of fact being how much you mobilize people and I agree that politics is based on facts I do want to stop on point for me I just read a book called The Moxie for realists which is by Chris Akins and Mary Barr tells her her two great political scientists and this book is a real thorough going attack on everything you have ever believed obviously I mean this is like a depressing book he did that's right the right and I've been enjoying reading this book because I like it turns out the whole swaths of this book are great even aside from the great parts are now focused on the twenty six election what's your review of a call not as cut the queue she read to understand that I sixteen election or something you can google that or something you can google that or something it was it was it was more fat more of a social headline the first third of the book is make in the cases that are based on mounds vocal research there is no possible case of the way democracies work is people know what is going on and vote based on accurate facts about it the next third is making the case that this sort of hack of the political scientists created the conceptual hack to make the argument democracy still works despite the fact that people don't have very much good information about it the retrospective voting they have the shortcuts where is the economy doing well are we in for more people are dying and they basically show that even when you pull together the evidence on out of which there is some it doesn't amount to anything you particularly comfortable with it basically says people are going to look at the economy in the six month right before the election even most people don't do that so okay that doesn't quite work either another kind of asking what explains the behavior of most people in a democracy and the answer may come to is it is about various kinds of social identities of the get activated and I think it's worth actually thinking about this it's weird it we are so used to that we don't notice how weird it is but it is weird we spent a lot of time talking about groups like non college educated whites and working class Hispanics and single women and Catholic white voters and so on why are those useful terms for talking about the voting behavior that many people what really does connect to the interests of single mothers for instance I mean obviously there are some things but I've met a lot of single mothers are more different than they are similar on the same thing with people and in the white working class end but the answer you know from from cartels in a can see the really is a lot of evidence that people have extremely strong identities Republican and Democrat Catholic and Jewish world and an herb in southern and northern and so on so forth and that basically what elections are is they're priming mechanisms and this goes to the point of facts because what they would say and this goes to the issue fake news too I think is in our head the way this work is a BC something like this story about the pope and what it does effect it could have is they say Oh the Pope and or Staal Trump the Pope is great I'm a truss a pumpkin go vote for Donald Trump or is what actually be sort of happening there I think they would say is that that story isn't going to change people's minds if you don't like don't like the Pope is completely wrong on this one just like he's wrong on so many other things or feel of Donald Trump it'll make you feel better about Donald Trump but what it will more than that do is activate a question like Are you Catholic are you a Catholic voter like Are you active in your Catholic identity in this election and that although elections are are collisions of different identities and so like for instance the Trump Clinton election activated a lot of identities are on multiculturalism are you comfortable with a rising multicultural majority in US politics are you comfortable with more immigrants coming in over the border are you comfortable black lives matter are you comfort you want the American power structure to be dominated by more traditional white voters from suburb in rural areas as it has been for a very long time and that the priming is really important and that one of the major facts in news stories do more than they convince people stuff this is where this goes back to Zuckerberg thing where he notes in the memo correctly that showing people information contrary to their bias ease does not tend to convince him of anything in fact it has often a backlash effect what makes our initial perception stronger but what it does do is depending on how the bulk of that to Sarah's point how the bulk of those story structure the questions different elections activate different identity so Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama activated identities of like capital versus labor or you will work or are are you somebody feels like you're winning in the economy or not are some who feels good about business would you feel bad about business where as Trump in Clinton that despite the obvious of the act of a Democrat or Republican identity says Obama Romney dead but they also activate these other identities and much more explicit way around are you comfortable with America becoming majority minority political nation or are you not comfortable with that and that is what the bulk of the stories are saying to your identity so which identity you end up feeling when you walk into that booth is really really important and is separate from their factual content there was one was having and what influences elections there is example I read about in Matthew's this morning about sharks in New Jersey that dislike was a really interesting reminder a yes research has come under don't know the days I was about to set up because I thought this was just like a really taking in taking into account everything you're saying this was like a good reminder but maybe it's a total garbage writer Mel tells of the second of May even with all these identities being activated and skin of people choosing their political tribes are at the end of the day there can also be like a lot of things like we like to think of we don't think of them as fake news but things like trans fats and influence the election like how the football games go before the election like we don't want people voting on that and it's not like fake news in the sense of like people are lying and making up facts that these things that are doing this timing of fact in a way that we like to think people are smarter than that but this starts example is a really stark one the ME explain THE shark send her some questions so walk us through the shark is one of the better weed lines are a little whether Wilson was governor of New Jersey and he was elected president in nineteen twelve he was reelected in nineteen sixteen and the nineteen twelve election was super odd but Wilson ran stronger almost everywhere in nineteen sixty and he ran in nineteen twelve one exception to that Will was his home state of New Jersey where he ran week are and the authors speculate that this is because soon before the nineteen sixteen election there was this crazy wave of shark attacks in coastal New Jersey that dominated the news in part because they weren't spectacular like a shark swam up river and Mike killed a boy who was easy wasn't even in the ocean you know like the kind of thing that would really make you worry write like you're doing on thick fake news you're too is something where it would not possibly have occurred to you to worry about sharks before and certainly kids are dying because of sharks the end he was just a terrifying story but he watched the economic fortunes of the Jersey coast beach towels out because because nobody wanted to go so they show through some instruments that the decline in propensity to vote for Wilson was concentrated in these Jersey shore beach towns that were most directly impacted by the shark attacks and no argument that they're making that I think is not that while the Sharks story is wild but if you think about Democrats who I know on Capitol Hill all believe that the A bola story hurt them in the twenty fourteen midterms exam I think it was easier because the evidence under the solid years the sharks of his contract drought yet there is reams of evidence that drought hurts incumbent politicians and as cartels and he can say in the book like even if you think that what voters are punishing of some politicians are bad at handling drought then in half the cases they would do better because like something would be better than average advantage of it just hurts everybody right it's not the politicians' fault like it's not like they didn't do a good enough trained and CEO of a very clear one is that if you are a politician in a state that exports a lot of natural resources that having the price of the commodity you produce go up is really good for reelection chances right so like the oil boom in North Dakota made North Dakota politicians really really popular even know nobody all of this isn't like nobody actually thinks that like the presence of the United States causes shark attacks or that the governor of North Dakota controls global commodity prices really any who I think it's M Robin Hanson has the City of Light close and far end like your political analytical mode tends to be a little bit weird in which people I want to see things come out a certain way you put it in a totally different cases as someone making financial planning decisions about their own life right do you think that whether or not Woodrow Wilson is re elected should impact whether we invest in a beach hotel in New Jersey like nobody thinks that right nobody actually thinks that the president is in charge of shark attacks nobody actually thinks that the government to cut a high price of oil but still in a practical sense when good things are happening people tend to take a good view of the incumbents and when bad things are happening they take a bad view and that's a point about droughts you should be saying something like Well our politicians handling this crisis well but instead it's just like Oh no something bad is happening the actual eclipse back to the fake news stuff in I'm kind of interesting way we're adding think one of the ways sickness can work in all this is like by creating the idea of the world is like a very bad scary place or a good place and I think a lot of like the fake news around Hillary Clinton kind of like build up this idea that like a lot of really bad things are happening like bad scary things that he should be upset about I think like one of the another one that went pretty viral was this idea that Clinton staff were running some sort of a child sex ring out of a local DC a pizza parlor comment pizza hut on Connecticut Avenue just a few miles from here taping this radio show and he if you're reading that through the lens of like what is happening in America right now are things going good or bad like that kind of feels like a shark attack great like it feels like a weird scary thing that you don't want happening and you know it felt real enough to some people that you had a gunman show up at the pizza parlor and a mutant Judy one bodies said he was there to investigate you know the supposed said child sex ring which I should state clearly I think the listeners but just know that there's absolutely no evidence that any of this was happening was one hundred percent fake news I've been there recently there were no signs of anything terrible happening buddy
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