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Political IQs

 
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1374

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: Political IQs Reply with quote

I heard a fragment of a conversation recently that sparked some thoughts.
IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a sometimes controversial measurement. The conventional IQ is a fairly decent measure for ability to do well in the modern Western school system (which is pretty much what it was created for), but it is often misused. Many people have pointed out that IQ does not measure emotional intelligence, manual dexterity or kinesthetic skills, social intelligence, and many other facets of the complexity of well-rounded people. IQ testing can also have problems such as cultural biases.
The conversational fragment I heard was a reminder that the IQ uses a scale normalized to have an average value of 100. This means that by definition half of the population will have "below average" IQs and half of the population will have "above average" IQs. The distribution of IQs follows the classic bell curve seen in many statistics--heavy in the center and trailing off at extreme values.
The new thought was: everyone must have a POLITICAL IQ, and these IQs also must fit a bell curve. This would explain a lot of what I find so baffling about modern politics, especially how politicians who are clearly bad for their constituents keep getting elected and why there is so much appealing to lowest common denominators. A large chunk of the population really does have trouble understanding politics and seeing through politicians' lies!
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2505

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But don't you think some of the problem is the people who choose to run for office? One's political IQ doesn't help much when the candidates offered aren't up to scratch. Then the only help one's political IQ can offer is to decide which candidate is the least likely to cause problems, sort of like the educated guesses one makes on a standard t/f exam.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1374

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the U. S. two-party system too often leaves voters with no better choice than the lesser of two evils. Primaries, especially Republican, block any moderates, putting extreme right-wing candidates in the final elections. Heavy gerrymandering all over the country protects incumbents.
The most recent decennial redistricting in California was done by a citizen's commission instead of by the legislature, and it made several races more competitive by reducing the gerrymandering.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1374

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had an afterthought to my previous post that I finally wrote down.
The lesser of two evils choice in general elections depends on lack of exercise of Political IQs during primary elections. If enough political intelligence was exercised early enough, partisan extremists wouldn't get through the primary process because everyone can see how bad they are for the country. As it is, too many voters accept extremists because the voters don't look behind the candidates' masks. Being a member of one's church is no guarantee of good behavior, as the many pedophile priest scandals of recent decades have shown. In a similar vein, the unsealing of decades of Boy Scouts of America perversion files is unmasking even more supposedly upstanding citizens.
Voters need to stop assuming any candidate will be a good office-holder because they are a member of any in-group and start asking:
Will this person's stated policies be good for the city, county, state, country, humanity, or the world?
If this person can't be pinned down to clear statements, can they be trusted with any power?
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I agree that voters, even in primaries, should pay attention. But the same problem arises in primaries as in general elections, for the candidates are usually chosen by the parties and again one has only those to choose between or amongst. One can always write in a choice, of course, but that's usually not very effective, either, for in a way, it's throwing one's vote away: It won't influence much of anything. Making a choice between two candidates, neither one of which one thinks is really very good, at least gives one a chance of getting someone better than the worse of the two or three on offer.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One reason for voting in primaries is that some localities—towns, counties, state representative districts—are so overwhelmingly one party or the other that the only local election that matters is the primary. (Of course, it can be more than a little difficult to get any information about such races.)

As for extremism, Mark, you might remember that a position that is viewed as extremist may nonetheless be right, or at least beneficial. The classic example is the Abolitionists. And the way they make their position known and win support for it, making it less "extreme," is by fielding candidates.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1374

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abolitionists were idealists, seeing the world as it was and saying it could be better. "Better" requires a framework or basis for definition. Many people's frameworks are based on religious books written hundreds to thousands of years ago in specific cultures. (E.g., the Old Testament and New Testament can both be described as anthologies that took several centuries to be written a couple millennia ago, and the Koran as a single-author collection written several centuries more recently.) When those books are approached with an open mind and awareness of modern reality they contain much value, but when they are used rigidly much harm can ensue. For some mention of Utilitarian ethics (one non-religious system), see the older "Change" and "Volume versus Validity" threads on this board.
Many modern political and religious extremists refuse the see the real world and insist that it must conform to their beliefs. Most extremists see themselves as idealists, but for me the key difference is the connection to reality. (Yes, I am aware that philosophical Idealism raises questions about the nature of reality, making this use somewhat dissonant.) For some discussion about facing facts, see the older "Reality, science and climate" thread on this board. The current Geriatric Oligarchic Palefaces U.S. political party (a name I suggest despite being a white male in my 50s) has veered far from reality, as demonstrated in the recent election when their pundits insisted on predicting clear through election day that they would win the presidency, while a number of people who chose to base their work on statistical evaluation of real numbers gave very accurate predictions of the final votes. A comment I heard on the radio recently said, in effect, that in U.S. politics it is time to admit that the GOP *is* the problem.
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