The More Republicans Know About Politics, the More They Believe Conspiracy Theories

The results were hardly symmetrical. First, 75 percent of Republicans, but only 56 percent of Democrats, believed in at least one political conspiracy theory. But even more intriguing was the relationship between one’s level of political knowledge and one’s conspiratorial political beliefs. Among Democrats and independents, having a higher level of political knowledge was correlated with decreased belief in conspiracies. But precisely the opposite was the case for Republicans, where knowledge actually made the problem worse. For each political knowledge question that they answered correctly, Republicans’ belief in at least one conspiracy theory tended to increase by 2 percentage points.


What’s up with this? Cassino views these data as just one more indicator of an “asymmetry” in how Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, respond to politics—with Republicans tending to be more partisan and tribal (and in this particular case, more willing to believe conspiracies about their political opponents), and Democrats less so. And while Cassino admits that his latest study wouldn’t, in and of itself, constitute definitive proof of ideological asymmetry, he thinks it fits into a bigger body of evidence.

From the WaPo: IRS ombudsman says overly complex tax code needs overhaul

Congress should simplify the tax code to ease the burden on filers, as well as take a hard look at the myriad tax breaks that cost nearly as much revenue as the government generates from individual income taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s ombudsman.

President Obama’s Birthday Message to Betty White

As a result of several long-building, polarizing trends in American politics and culture, we have lost the ability to execute even the basic functions of government, much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing the country. … Those who think that they alone have the right answers, those who demonize those who think differently, and those who refuse to listen and take other points of view into account — these leaders, in my view, are a danger to the American people and to the future of our republic.

former Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week in Philadelphia. (via washingtonpoststyle)

The United States of Inequality

This is a fantastic series of 10 articles, very worthwhile reading.  Wow.