Wednesday, September 20, 2017

If Roy Moore Wants To Look For Satan

Some say "even a stopped clock is right twice a day." Unfortunately, far too many people say it.

Still, in my last post I suggested something analogous for the otherwise hideous Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who- depending upon how she alters the Obama Administration's guidelines pertaining to sexual assault- may prove to be right once or twice a year.

Similarly, Roy Moore- yes, that Roy Moore- may prove to be right once. Roy Moore is the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who faces incumbent Luther Strange in the GOP runoff primary for US Senate.  In a speech Sunday

“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party. What changed?” Moore asked in footage provided to The Hill by a Republican monitoring the race.

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

If only God can "bring us back together," it may be Satan who has driven us apart. At the very least, Moore needs to be asked who or what is responsible for disunity in the land.

Fortunately, a study by Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu recently published in the American Economic Review evaluates one factor driving the lack of political unity. In their report, "Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization," they explain

The tastes for news channels are partly determined by the closeness of the news channels’ estimated ideology to the individuals. Individual ideology evolves toward the estimated ideologies of the news channels that a consumer watches. We use the estimated model to characterize the degree of polarization that one can attribute to slanted cable news consumption, to measure effects of cable news on elections, and to assess the positioning strategies of the cable news channels. 

Although the research focused on presidential elections, Republicans such as Moore probably have an even greater chance of winning statewide general elections because of a factor discovered by the researchers. Moore/Yurukoglu conclude

Our estimates imply increasing effects of FNC on the Republican vote share in presidential elections over time, from 0.46 points in 2000 to 6.34 points in 2008. Furthermore, we estimate that cable news can increase polarization and explain about two-thirds of the increase among the public in the United States, and that this increase depends on both a persuasive effect of cable news and the existence of tastes for like-minded news.

Is Fox News probably (barely) Satan in disguise.  However, that makes more sense than most of what Roy Moore says.

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