Five Links About – Well, What Else?

It doesn’t matter whether you support Trump, Biden – or even Kanye. It doesn’t matter whether you read this at 10 in the morning on the 4th of November 2020, which is when I’ll be scheduling this post, or much later (and that could be hours, days, weeks or months later). I’ve tried to collate five sources that will give you the long view of whatever might happen on this day. With that in mind, here we go:

Ezra Klein speaks about the American divide, and posits that it isn’t about Republicans v Democrats (and read the whole excerpt, and then the whole book!):

Over the past decade, the dreams of democratic theorists everywhere actually came true. The internet made information abundant. The rise of online news gave Americans access to more information — vastly more information, orders of magnitude more information — than they had ever had before. And yet surveys showed we weren’t, on average, any more politically informed. Nor were we any more involved: Voter participation didn’t show a boost from the democratization of political information. Why?



But among those with cable and internet access, the difference in political knowledge between those with the highest and lowest interest in cable news was 27 percent. That dwarfed the difference in political knowledge between people with the highest and lowest levels of schooling. “In a high-choice environment, people’s content preferences become better predictors of political learning than even their level of education,” Prior wrote.



Misperceptions were particularly high when people were asked to describe the other party. Democrats believed 44 percent of Republicans earned more than $250,000 a year; it’s actually 2 percent. Republicans believed that 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian, or bisexual; the correct answer is about 6 percent. Democrats believed that more than four in 10 Republicans are seniors; in truth, seniors make up about 20 percent of the GOP. Republicans believed that 46 percent of Democrats are black and 44 percent belong to a union; in reality, about 24 percent of Democrats are black and less than 11 percent belong to a union.



Here’s the kicker: As the charts below show, the more political media people consumed, the more mistaken they were, in general, about the other party. This is a damning result: The more political media you absorb, the more warped your perspective of the other side becomes.

https://www.vox.com/2020/1/28/21077888/why-were-polarized-media-book-ezra-news

… while Bruno Macaes hypothesizes that the split is between fiction and reality (and interpret that any way you will)

The main binary in American politics is not between left and right, but between fiction and reality. One experiences particular fictions, but at some point they must be revealed as no more than fictions. They must be switched off, in anticipation of new stories.

https://brunomacaes.substack.com/p/biden-the-kill-switch

This article is impossible to excerpt from, but deserves to be read in full, multiple times. Ross Douthat on what the right, the centre and the left learned from four years of Trump.

A worthwhile read on – no matter the outcome, whenever you read this – the Nate Silver/Taleb debate:

Because FiveThirtyEight only predicts probabilities, they do not ever take an absolute stand on an outcome: No ‘skin in the game’ as Taleb would say. This is not, however, something their readers follow suit on. In the public eye, they (FiveThirtyEight) are judged on how many events with forecasted probabilities above and below 50% happened or didn’t respectively (in a binary setting). Or, they (the readers) just pick the highest reported probability as the intended forecast. For example, they were showered with accolades when after, ‘calling 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential race correctly’ Nate Silver was placed on Times 100 most influential people list. He should not have accepted the honor if he didn’t call a winner in any of the states!

https://towardsdatascience.com/why-you-should-care-about-the-nate-silver-vs-nassim-taleb-twitter-war-a581dce1f5fc

And hey, take the long view!

In 44 chronological episodes, the “Presidential” podcast takes listeners on an epic historical journey through the personality and legacy of each of the American presidents. Created and hosted by Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham, “Presidential” features interviews with the country’s greatest experts on the presidency, including Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Jon Meacham and Bob Woodward. Start listening at the very beginning, with the life of George Washington, or jump ahead to any president whose story you want to better understand.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/podcasts/presidential/