Great news about America: we’ve become skeptics!

Summary:  The first news I see after my migration from San Francisco is wonderful, even inspiring. We have taken what I have long said is the first step on the road to political reform in America. It is the easiest step. Those that follow are more difficult.

Doubt about the standard answer
© Alphaspirit | Dreamstime.

For about a quarter century, Gallup has asked Americans what is the most important problem facing the nation. It is a crude but enlightening window into American’s concerns. Gallup has given us news of the best kind. Every year Gallup asks a sample of American’s the following question.

“What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?”

Two of the largest propaganda barrages in US history have been those promoting action on climate change (began in 1988) and to start a new Cold War (began roughly in 2017). Both are been gross — often ludicrous — exaggerations of real threats, designed to build political support for special interests. Many of us have been concerned about our fellow Americans’ willingness to believe what they are told — despite the long history of our elites lying to us about vital matters.

How successful have they been at molding public opinion? Gallup’s June 2018 survey returns the following news. The results are amazing.

  • Poor government or bad national leadership: 10%.
  • Economic issues: 15%.
  • Immigration/Illegal aliens: 14%.
  • Race relations/Racism: 7%.
  • Healthcare: 4%
  • Lack of respect for each other: 4%.
  • Unifying the country: 4%.
  • Guns and gun control: 4%
  • Ethics/moral/religious/family decline: 4%.
  • Poverty/Hunger/Homelessness: 3%.
  • National security: 2%.
  • International issues: 2%.
  • Environment/Pollution: 2%.
  • Crime/violence: 2%.
  • The media: 2%.
  • Education 2%.
  • Ten more issues at 1%.
  • Nine more issues at 0.5% to 1%.
  • Other non-economic issues: 5%.

No direct mention of Russia or RussiaGate. No direct mention of global warming or climate change. This is good news! Both campaigns have earned their just reward. Perhaps we will be able to rationally evaluate and respond to these challenges.

I am surprised. I am astonished. These were lavishly funded and skillfully executed propaganda campaigns. I would have bet big that at least one of these would have succeeded and produced hysteria in the public. Fortunately I did not make a formal prediction, so this won’t go on the Fails & Smackdowns page.

“Thus, an extraordinary claim requires “extraordinary” (meaning stronger than usual) proof.”
— Marcello Truzzi in Zetetic Scholar, August 1987.

I have written 15 posts urging Americans to become more skeptical. The leaders of our institutions lie to us often and casually, including the leaders of our government. We should not credulous believe them, just because their lies happen to flatter our political beliefs. It makes us easy to manipulate. Skepticism is first step to political reform for America.


Now for the bad news

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”
— Sydney J. Harris (American journalist) on channel 7’s “On the Contrary” (1962).

Skepticism can be a powerful tool for citizens — helping us more clearly see the world through the fog of propaganda. It can encourage us to act, and help us find the best path to the future. But cynicism is a cheap excuse for apathy. It best befits peasants.

Which will we choose to be?

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about propaganda, about information and disinformationabout RussiaGate, and especially these…

  1. A nation lit only by propaganda.
  2. The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  3. We cannot agree on simple facts and so cannot reform America.
  4. American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly.
  5. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
  6. Moving towards 1984, step by step.
  7. The one tool that rules us and in the darkness binds us.
  8. Democrats betray their principles & embrace the Deep State.

11 thoughts on “Great news about America: we’ve become skeptics!”

  1. Agreed that in the public mind, we have probably seen peak global warming and that there is widespread skepticism or indifference to the alarmism, and active hostility to some policy parts of the narrative, such as renewables. The US leaving Paris was a key moment. There are signs that the leading national players in wind and solar are getting cold feet and dropping subsidies. And the Exxon suit was dismissed unceremoniously.

    But, but… its early days in the story still. There is still relatively little questioning at a policy maker level. There is still, at least in the US, a strong association between party political views and views of climate science, which means that the many Democrats who take their views from the party line are still believers. The Guardian and Ars Technica, the NY Times and LA Times are still die-hard alarmists and cheer-leaders for the renewables lobby. If you read their heavily moderated comments, you will find a lot of furious alarm and predictions of doom and excoriation of the coal gas and oil industries. This has a ways to run still.

    Still, the fact that Paris was never going to reduce global emissions is now being generally accepted, and the failure of the leading emitters to reduce under it is being quite widely reported. It seems most unlikely that one more push is going to make any difference to this, and as emissions rise and the planet fails to warm, skepticism and indifference will rise, and there will be more real science done and published on the real drivers of climate. In fact, this is already happening.

    I am not sure its right to describe it as a ‘propaganda campaign‘. A ‘barrage’ it has certainly been, but does it deserve to be called a campaign? That suggests a degree of planning and intent that I’m skeptical about. I think a better characterization may be that its a moral panic, which once it got started had a strong component of the enforcement of conformity. When historians of science look back on it in 20 or 30 years, I think they will focus on the instructive similarities and differences to Lysenkoism and Eugenics. Another episode that comes to mind is the masturbation mania at the turn of the 20c. And perhaps also the anti-saturated fat dietary mania which has done so much damage.

    Somehow, in very different societies, a very simple minded and fallacious view of some scientific issue takes root, becomes orthodoxy, and results in public policies which do little or nothing about the supposed problem.

    I would suggest we need to see global warming hysteria in this light – a self organizing phenomenon, rather than the result of any sort of planned and intended program.

    At any rate, yes, thank goodness for skepticism! And as you say, a very welcome piece of news.

    Best wishes in your new home by the way. What one reads lately about SF suggests your exit was absolutely right, and just in time.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      (1) “Agreed that in the public mind, we have probably seen peak global warming”

      I didn’t say that. The future depends on the weather. A surge of bad weather could panic Americans (we panic easily) into belief that climate change will eat us. See Why skeptics will lose the US climate policy debate.

      (2) “But, but… its early days in the story still. ”

      This is why you should reply to direct quotes. You often give rebuttals to things I didn’t say. As I have pointed out to you many times.

      (3) “Still, the fact that Paris was never going to reduce global emissions is now being generally accepted, …”

      That’s irrelevant. The weather defeated the climate alarmists. For 30 years they have predicted armageddon real soon: more/stronger hurricanes after Katrina, the end of snow, etc. Instead we have had unusually benign weather.

      (4) “I am not sure its right to describe it as a ‘propaganda campaign‘. …That suggests a degree of planning and intent that I’m skeptical about.”

      Few propaganda campaigns are planned. Like almost everything else in the real world, they evolve as people react to events. As for “intent”, that’s too silly to discuss.

    2. Apologies for misunderstanding. We seem to agree that the lack of concern the polls reveal about global warming is a good sign. I think it shows a lot of hope regarding the US public’s resistance to nonsensical alarmist propaganda.

      Read your linked post at the time, and have reread it now. Here I don’t agree. It was plausible a few years back that a surge of bad weather could panic Americans into both accepting an alarmist view of climate, and into accepting activist US climate policies. But things have changed in the last few years.

      — The US contribution to total global emissions has fallen, as US emissions fall and others’ emissions rise, so its much harder to present US reductions as materially affecting the climate.

      — Paris has failed to produce any reductions by anyone, so its impossible to argue that US reductions are a duty as part of a global program. There is no such program, and that is becoming generally known. China’s increases are getting mainstream attention at last.

      — The deficiencies of wind and solar as ways of reducing emissions, and their huge expense, are becoming widely known from experience in Germany, the UK and Australia.

      — And in climate science, there is increasing publication of studies in the peer reviewed literature that cast doubt on the alarmist case and on the notion of CO2 as control knob.

      — The suits based on the tobacco model have all been unceremoniously thrown out.

      My own prediction would be that if there were to be a major weather disaster it would not, in today’s environment, provoke panic and recourse to extreme emission reduction measures in the US. I think it would produce a vigorous debate ending with no US action at all.

      We shall find out together. When you have the combination of an unconvinced public, and cracks appearing in the beliefs of the policy elite and their intellectual support in academia, this it seems to me is a strong indicator of the peak having been reached and the decline starting.

      In another ten years I don’t expect anyone in policy positions to be taking global warming seriously any more. I expect China and India and the developing world to have majorly increased emissions, and nothing much to have happened to temps. The West will have continued emitting pretty much at present levels. And the activists will have moved onto something else, like trying to persuade us all to change gender….

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “But things have changed in the last few years.”

        I doubt you can find a single person in marketing or politics who believes that the factors you list have a significant effect on overall US public opinion. Nada. Nobody. Zip.

    3. No. But I think they have had an effect on opinion formers and policy makers, and will have more effects as time goes on. Ideologies collapse from both ends, indifference by the public, and loss of faith by the nomenklatura. We are seeing both, and when it happens like this, in the end its terminal.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Perhaps, but you are conflating two very different question. As usual, confusion is the result.

        It would be more useful if you were to say that you were wrong — the things you listed have little affect on public opinion — and fall back to saying something different (that they affect elites). Then your new proposition could be discussed.

        Shifting the goalposts isn’t helpful.

  2. It makes sense that Americans rank “Economic issues” as the most important problem. It’s the same reason Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country — he’s the only one addressing the economic realities most people face. And why people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted a 10-term incumbent from his seat. A left populist agenda has shown to be very viable and popular but there’s little hope the Democratic establishment will embrace it on its own merits. That’s why party managers have doubled down on stupid strategies. The groundswell of candidates running on a popular economic platform (Medicare for all, free college tuition, etc), and using a financing model that doesn’t include corporate donations is much more frightening to establishment Dems than their feigned fear of Russian collusion.

  3. What people need is not only to avoid false + but false – which skeptics are more prone to.

    Flat earthers are a prime example of false – resulting from their disillusionment with actual falsehoods. And then dialing up their skepticism so high that even truth looks like falsehood.

  4. ”But cynicism is a cheap excuse for apathy. It best befits peasants.”

    I think that’s one of the benefits of Christianity. Because hope is fundamental in the belief system. Making despair out to be sin.

    Jesus only needed 12 men to make a substantial impact.

    This is how defeatism is dealt with.

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