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Engineering Election Debates With Subtle Cues

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the after-consultation-with-stephen-bury dept.

Media 105

smolloy writes "A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (the 'worm') that allows viewers to track the response of a sample of undecided voters in real-time. A potential danger of presenting such data is that it may prevent people from making independent evaluations. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Bristol, report an experiment with 150 participants in which they manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate. The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet the researchers were able to influence their perception of who won the debate, their choice of preferred prime minister, and their voting intentions."

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105 comments

Big surprise? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35697968)

That's how Obongo won in 08. I thought this was common knowledge.

Re:Big surprise? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698018)

Everyone who voted for McCain was retarded. Everyone who voted for Obama was manipulated (and stupid). I'll take the fools over the imbeciles. At least the fools can learn from their mistakes.

What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35697980)

What is this "peer pressure" thing you speak of?

Subliminal Propoganda (1)

tantaliz3 (1074234) | about 3 years ago | (#35697990)

What is the world coming to. ...bah. Terrorists and earthquakes and hackers and lawsuits and big waves and big oil and radiation and no oil and ....omg.

Reasonable Choices. (5, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 3 years ago | (#35697994)

This, along with the idea of an Overton window [wikipedia.org] , and the classic approach of simply buying all the media sources available are reminders that, although we are each beings capable of making rational choices - what we see as reasonable is VERY often decided by the range of views we are exposed to.

Watch only right/leftwing media, and someone on the other extreme will seem extremely unreasonable compared to the side you're used to - even when you agree with them.

Live life only aware of your own nation, and all other nations will seem unreasonable and absurd, speaking their strange languages, with their scary history of violence - but your own nation's history of violence will seem a unique point of pride.

The "worm" mentioned in this article is just an instant poll - and conflated polls have always been a tool of shaping a nation's "reasonable discourse." You don't even have to lie - When you get to select the questions in a poll, or the audience for the instant poll - you get to shape the greek chorus chanting of what is authority and reasonableness to the populace.

That's not to say the whole system is all a sham, as would be tempting - but it is all flawed in most every direction (as it always was, and was expected to be historically). Skepticism and exposure to outside views are key to growing your mind to a state less vulnerable to such things. The Internet is actually helping here with the next generations - but open even-handed skepticism as a subject still needs a LOT more promotion in free societies, along with awareness of what works in other nations.

We need more bologna detection kits working out there!

Ryan Fenton

Re:Reasonable Choices. (4, Informative)

ewe2 (47163) | about 3 years ago | (#35698034)

In every debate using the worm here (Oz), at least one media organization always accuses the others of manipulating theirs, regardless of the result. So if you weren't already influenced then you had to ignore the deliberate media muddling of the issues. On top of the normal deliberate media muddling of course. But it doesn't stop commentators twittering them as a spectator sport anyway. This may be why we had a record 1.6% deliberate donkey vote in our last federal election.

Re:Reasonable Choices. (1)

woolio (927141) | about 3 years ago | (#35699898)

This may be why we had a record 1.6% deliberate donkey vote in our last federal election.

Who are you to say that a donkey couldn't run a country better than previously elected humans?

The same people back both sides (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 3 years ago | (#35698076)

That's not to say the whole system is all a sham

It is a sham. The choice of leaders is a pretence. All of them are backed by the same groups and are obligated to those groups, not the electorate. Take a look at the enacted policies and you will be completely unable to tell the parties apart.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 3 years ago | (#35698168)

That's why the Greeks in Athens chose their office holders randomly, and offices could only be held once per person.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 3 years ago | (#35698220)

What if holding public office were regarded in the same way that most people seem to view jury duty?

I have long been attracted to the notion that leaders should be dragged kicking and screaming into office.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698322)

yes, There was a science fiction story that I read many years ago where the "President" was chosen at random from the population there were only two things which could get you disqualified, Being convicted of a felony and wanting the job. Always seemed like a good plan to me.

Re:The same people back both sides (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about 3 years ago | (#35698696)

What if holding public office were regarded in the same way that most people seem to view jury duty?

With or without US-style "jury selection"?

I don't think you can get away from the fact that "leadership ability" and a certain amount of charisma are essential for the top level of government - part of their job is to "sell" the decisions once they have been made - but having some/all of parliament "conscripted" at random - rather than filled with party members obliged to follow the whip - has always seemed like an interesting idea to me. I'm sure, however, that the unanticipated consequences would be legion...

In the words of the immortal Douglas Adams: "Nobody capable of getting themselves elected as President should on any account be allowed to do the job. To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem."

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 3 years ago | (#35699486)

Solution: never elect people with any charisma, and discourage dramatic escapades from any official with actual decision-making power. Let the lackeys and journalists (who are not elected anyway) do the screaming to the masses.

It will probably prevent dangerous psychopaths from being elected, too.

Re:The same people back both sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698764)

Hmm, let me think about this.

Maybe if there is free travel / room & board.

Imagine if a CEO or someone working on an important task from a company is selected. Would their business be assisted while they were away for the term?

At the very least on average the people selected will follow the majority.

Personally, I would love to go do this job, even at the drop of a hat right now.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

osgeek (239988) | about 3 years ago | (#35701698)

So, you're suggesting that the old adage of: "The problem with juries is that the only people on them are folks too stupid to know how to get out of jury duty" be more widely applicable across the other branches of government?

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35705772)

So, you're suggesting that the old adage of: "The problem with juries is that the only people on them are folks too stupid to know how to get out of jury duty" be more widely applicable across the other branches of government?

That's an adage only trotted out by morons and sociopaths.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35705768)

What if holding public office were regarded in the same way that most people seem to view jury duty?

I have long been attracted to the notion that leaders should be dragged kicking and screaming into office.

Yes, because people who are forced to do a task or job they have no interest in are always both highly motivated and highly skilled

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Monchanger (637670) | about 3 years ago | (#35703192)

If US citizens elected idiots like Bush (or god help us- Sarah "I can see Sparta from my... umm... Ionian buildy-thingy..." Palin) into office more regularly, I'd say sure. The thing is the average American is significantly inferior than even the mediocre politicians they elect. Tolerance for stupidity in Presidents is even more rare.

The average Athenian was properly educated for holding office, and was far more engaged in current affairs than most Americans, who care more about who's getting kicked off of Dancing with the Stars than how the Iraqi and Afghan wars are going. And even our most engaged citizens as often as not simply repeat the talking points of the party they vote for unfailingly, rather than actually try to understand the issues and make an informed, independent decision. We've already got all the randomness we can handle.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 3 years ago | (#35704024)

Indeed, bring back Sortition! Let's get rid of political parties and electoral drama and just appoint an executive jury that actually represents the people it represents, because it *is* a sample of the people it represents.

Being represented by someone who makes in a month what you make in a year is a sham.

Sure, juries aren't experts in economy, industry or environment or urban development topics, but neither are politicians! We have consultants for that!

Re:The same people back both sides (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698204)

Ah, the famous "b... b... but both sides are the same and equally bad."

You're right, there's no difference between them except on minor policies regarding the environment, the economy, national security, worker's rights and a few other bits of fluff. Last election, one party nominated "Harvard graduate & policy wonk" and the other nominated "Senility & nice tits", but there's no difference. One party supports increased fuel efficiency standards and research, the other is outright attempting to destroy the EPA and OSHA, but there's no difference. One party got us involved in 2 land wars in Asia (One of them based on lies) with no good way out and now has no policy on national security other than chest beating and "anything to make the black man look bad, even if it means delaying a nuclear inspection treaty with Russia," the other is trying to get us out of those land wars and is busy not starting one in Libya. One party thinks the answer to our economic problems is more deregulation, cutting taxes, and is anti-worker to the point of taking down murals from the Department of Labor for being pro-labor, to say nothing of the attempted complete no-bid sellout of Wisconsin.

But you're right, they're both equally as bad.

People who, like you, throw up their hands in despair because no group is perfect are the best ally the neo-fascists who've taken over the Republican party could ask for. The more people they can disgust and keep away from the polls, the fewer useful idiots they need to vote for them and therefore the more extreme/overt they can get.

Re:The same people back both sides (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 years ago | (#35698258)

Depends how you define 'bad.' There are a lot of people who would be one-issue voters, if not for both the parties not caring about it. Take, for example, copyright reform - this being Slashdot, a lot of people here believe that some form of weakening of copyright laws would be in order to preserve freedom of innovation and because the cost of enforcement is unacceptable. But what can they do? The Republican party is in favor of even stronger copyright law, and the Democratic party is in favor of... exactly the same. They are both beholden to corporate interests, because that is where the money is - and it doesn't matter how good your policies are, you arn't going to get far in politics without the money to run a campaign. In the last presidential election, the candidates between them spent nearly three billion dollars. They differ only in exactly which corporations they serve.

The problem isn't that the parties are the same - they do differ substantially, as you describe. The problem is that they are both essentially corrupt, just in different manners, because that is the only way to compete in the political arena. Winning elections takes money, and you get money by courting the rich donors and implying that you'll do something to help them if they give you enough to get in power.

MPAA owns TV news (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#35699012)

The Republican party is in favor of even stronger copyright law, and the Democratic party is in favor of... exactly the same. They are both beholden to corporate interests, because that is where the money is - and it doesn't matter how good your policies are, you arn't going to get far in politics without the money to run a campaign.

It's not just that. All five major TV news organizations are co-owned by five out of the six major motion picture studios. They will play up or play down issues and candidates in a way that controls public perception of the movie industry. Details [pineight.com]

Re:The same people back both sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35699248)

Give me a break you blind apologist. I could destroy you in debate over your hallow twisted examples. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Marginalized 3rd party voters and non voters do a better service. I vote for no chance candidates and await the decay that brings us revolution.

Re:The same people back both sides (0)

Zarluk (976365) | about 3 years ago | (#35699376)

(...) the other is trying to get us out of those land wars and is busy starting one in Libya.

Fixed that for you.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Monchanger (637670) | about 3 years ago | (#35703238)

Libya isn't a land war, not for American forces. He explicitly said he won't do that and as of now he hasn't sent an invasion force.

Come back when he does and you might have something to say against him that's actually true.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#35699504)

One party got us involved in 2 land wars in Asia (One of them based on lies) with no good way out

Are you referring to the Republicans with Afghanistan and Iraq or are you referring to the Democrats with Korea and Vietnam?

Re:The same people back both sides (3, Insightful)

damienl451 (841528) | about 3 years ago | (#35699954)

I don't have a dog in this fight (not a US citizen), but let me guess, you're a Democrat? I think reactions like yours are one of the main reasons why compromise has become impossible in the US. How can you make a deal when you think that the other party is a bunch of morons and "neo-fascists" (yeah, right, don't you feel a little ridiculous?). If they're so bad then they can't possibly have a point, their voters are morons and we shouldn't pay any attention to them regardless of the fact that they control half of Congress.

First, everyone should take issue with the fact that a Harvard-man and a policy wonk are *necessarily* the best suited to run a country. Do you realize how condescending that sounds? "Oh my, this Sarah Palin only has a B.S. from the University of Idaho... How awful!". Isn't the Democratic Party supposed to be the party of the underdog?

In terms of credentials, Bush/Cheney should have been great. Bush: Yale & Harvard, Cheney: M.A. and some doctoral coursework... All we need to do to see that the "best and the brightest" mentality does not lead to great achievements is look at the 60s with Kennedy & Johnson and the Vietnam War. The "best and the brightest" (read the book) got the US into an unwinnable war.

I think we also have a different definition of what actions one needs to take not to start a war. By my definition, launching 100+ missiles into a sovereign country and destroying their airforce IS making war on this country. Attacking a foreign country is a very strange way of trying to keep a nation at peace. Or maybe the Japanese were also engaging in "kinetic military action" at Pearl Harbour? Have you been reading Orwell lately?

Strangely enough, it seems to ring a bell... Didn't the previous administration also use euphemisms to hide the dirty reality of what they were doing? They didn't torture people, they used "enhanced interrogation". Likewise, the present administration is not waging war on Libya, they are engaging in "kinetic military action".

Didn't you hear about the hawks in the Obama administration advocating military action in Libya? Do you believe that only the GOP has that kind of people?

Anyway, you seem to focus solely on the rhethoric. I say that actions speak louder than words. There seems to be a lot of continuity between Bush & Obama. When the GOP is in power, all they do is talk about deregulation, etc. while voting for NCLB. Talk about small government while voting for the PATRIOT Act. Talk about cutting the deficit while making sure that Medicare and all the popular programs don't get cut, etc.

Same thing for the Dems. They badmouth deregulation a lot but, you know what, they supported most of it. Airline deregulation (mind you, this was a good thing)? Carter era, sponsored by a Dem. Repeal of Glass-Steagall? Clinton era, bipartisan vote.
And who promised to "end welfare as we know it" in his 1992 campaign?

Are the two parties the same? Of course not. But the policies they implement are reasonably similar. I'm not convinced that the US would be a very different place if the GOP had won the 2008 elections. Now with Libya, you can't even say that Obama will not engage in military action without the approval of Congress...

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Monchanger (637670) | about 3 years ago | (#35703764)

For someone who accuses others of focusing on rhetoric, you sure fell into that trap easily.

George W. Bush was a C average (75%) student who got accepted into elite schools only thanks to his father. In their 2000 primary Republicans chose him over McCain- a far superior candidate both in ability and experience. Then to follow up, they did their damnedest to elect Palin who you wouldn't trust to run a burger shack, let alone a large nation. You tell me what that says about them. Contrast these pinnacles of mediocrity to Obama who is undeniably intelligent and you have your answer about who made a reasonable decision based strictly on academic merit. As for that "best and brightest" bit, it's rhetorical nonsense to suggest that you should avoid electing smart people because of one anecdote. I'll see your Johnson and raise you a Jefferson.

The Democrats do "support the underdog", but not in that they try to elect the most average person they can get to run for office. Rather, they are more likely to advocate politically on behalf of the under-privileged class, such as with universal healthcare and extending unemployment benefits during the recession. That's not to say these were correct policies- I'm sure you know all about the issues discussed during the healthcare debate, and I was watching some congressional hearings earlier where there was a question about whether or not the extension of unemployment could actually have negative results. But their leaning is to support those who need help rather than give tax cuts to people who have more money than they could possibly spend. When you take into consideration that a very large number of those voting Republican are among the lowest income brackets, yet they allow themselves to be fooled into voting against their own interest. Again- you tell me what that says about Republicans who don't just go to vote in hopes of banning homosexuality and abortion.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35705796)

Do you realize how condescending that sounds? "Oh my, this Sarah Palin only has a B.S. from the University of Idaho... How awful!". Isn't the Democratic Party supposed to be the party of the underdog?

The problem with Sarah Palin isn't the quality of her degree, it's the lack of quality of her mind. She's almost as thick as George W Bush.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

517714 (762276) | about 3 years ago | (#35701004)

If Harvard grad is so important to you, I suppose you voted for George W. Bush?

It is very easy to cite specific issues to demonize one party:

  • One party wants to legalize and promote the killing of unborn babies.
  • One party passed legislation that they had not read and called it a health care "plan".
  • One party thinks it is more important to protest the removal of a mural in Maine than representing their constituents. Otherwise how can one explain a drop of that party from 62% to 48% in the House and 57% to 40% in the Senate in 2010? Governor LePage is a buffoon, but the alternative was NOT the Democrat who got 19% of the vote, it was an Independent who got 2% less than LePage and might well have won if our electoral procedures did not favor the two dominant parties.

If you think that the only alternative to Republicans are Democrats then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

osgeek (239988) | about 3 years ago | (#35701968)

Wow. The article shows research that demonstrates the lemming-like nature of political opinions and you provide an excellent real-world example of it by stridently defending your political party of choice rather than thinking for yourself and realizing that political party support gets us nowhere.

For example, you think that Obama is "busy not starting [a war] in Libya"? Obama has us there now and anyone without political blinders on could tell from the beginning that putting one pinky into the Libyan situation meant going to war with Libya unless we had gotten lucky and the rebels could have ousted Qadafi without our help. Between Libya and Guantanamo, Obama should really hand back his peace prize. He's barely better than Bush when it comes to avoiding war in the Middle East.

As far as the economy, can you even come close to defending the Democrats' complete lack of leadership on the deficit and sensible budgeting over the last couple of years? Fascinating. Is there any doubt in your mind that if the Democrats hadn't lost big in 2010 that they wouldn't be passing Continuing Resolutions and debt ceiling extensions all day long? The only group even attacking the deficit is the Tea Party.

So, both parties aren't equally bad in all the exact same ways, but they both have enough bad that supporting either one strongly is a really poor idea for us if we give a crap about the future of America.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 3 years ago | (#35698308)

That's not to say the whole system is all a sham

It is a sham. The choice of leaders is a pretence. All of them are backed by the same groups and are obligated to those groups, not the electorate. Take a look at the enacted policies and you will be completely unable to tell the parties apart.

That's what they want you to think.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#35698526)

That's what they want you to think.

for they in "jews" "freemasons" "the illuminati" "al quaeda" "jews" ...

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

funkatron (912521) | about 3 years ago | (#35698884)

I think you need to look again; the sides are different but they're different flavours of shit.

Re:The same people back both sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35704534)

I think you need to taste again; the sides are different but they're different flavours of shit.

there ftfy.

Re:The same people back both sides (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35705754)

That's not to say the whole system is all a sham

It is a sham. The choice of leaders is a pretence. All of them are backed by the same groups and are obligated to those groups, not the electorate. Take a look at the enacted policies and you will be completely unable to tell the parties apart.

Not everyone lives in the US you know. In Europe there are (admittedly minority) green, communist, and socialist parties too.

Re:Reasonable Choices. (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about 3 years ago | (#35698102)

We've been knowing that since 1994 [wikipedia.org] in Italy. I wish some footage of that time's Italian TV was available in English, too. Popular TV shows (think "who wants to be a millionnaire") were regularly interrupted by political ads and statements by the anchorman such as 'Berlusconi will run the country as well as he ran his business, he hasn't fired a single worker in the last X years".

Re:Reasonable Choices. (1)

lalcan (822159) | about 3 years ago | (#35699126)

I see two problems:

1.- It makes easy to be a sheep.
You don't have to think, you just check the "worm".

2.- Changes the main influencer.
Before, someone interested in voting but without a clear decision, would talk with their friends and family, now they can just read the worm and get the feeling of getting the real social trend.

Predictably Irrational (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 3 years ago | (#35700800)

The REAL IMPORTANT question is how long will democracy last against the march of the social sciences?

Will computer science give us machine overlords before our "free will" is subverted by the oligarchy? That is, assuming we have any free will at all.... will we have 2 classes of people-- ones raised to rule and ones raised to be "free" within their cages?

I'm sure that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35697998)

Rupert Murdoch won't use this to manipulate elections. Much.

Debates are like NASCAR (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 3 years ago | (#35698022)

Political debates are pretty useless anyway.

At best all you get to learn is how good a debater each candidate is. The only reason to watch a debate is the same reason people really watch NASCAR races - for the occasional flameout like Jan Brewer in the Arizona debate [csmonitor.com] but even that wasn't a fatal crash as she went on to win the election anyhow...

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698148)

Once I learned something from the opposite side on Colbert when he held a mini-debate. I can't really disagree with your statement in practice - I don't think I've ever seen a very informative political debate in real life, although I'd like to think they do happen in principle. Written debates are a bit better for taking the irrelevant debating skills out of the picture w.r.t. the issues and letting you digest it on your own time...

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 3 years ago | (#35698198)

Debates are only useless to people who follow politics. For that person with only a casual interest, they're very revealing snapshots. I learned this after talking to a friend after the last election. For those of us who are interested in politics beyond the headlines, we have a bad habit of forgetting how uninformed most of the public is. And, I wouldn't use anything from Arizona as a model for the rest of the nation!

The problems start when we stop having real debates and the "safe" crap like the Bush-Kerry debates.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#35698236)

For that person with only a casual interest, they're very revealing snapshots.

What do they reveal, apart from who is best at certain soft skills that correlate positively with sociopathy?

Certainly very little about their policies.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 3 years ago | (#35698694)

They also reveal which one is handsomer...

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35700308)

While we're on the subject, can someone pop that huge jaw zit on McCain already?

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

517714 (762276) | about 3 years ago | (#35701044)

In the Nixon-Kennedy debate, radio listeners said Nixon won, television viewers said it was Kennedy. So the question is should we listen to debates or watch them?

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

Confusador (1783468) | about 3 years ago | (#35705636)

We should read the transcripts. I don't care if someone looks like Natalie Portman or sounds like Walter Cronkite, but I do care about their ability to put ideas together in coherent sentences.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35705808)

We should read the transcripts. I don't care if someone looks like Natalie Portman or sounds like Walter Cronkite, but I do care about their ability to put ideas together in coherent sentences.

I think that puts you in a tiny minority on slashdot. Most people here would vote for Natalie Portman even if it turned out she'd organized the 9/11 attacks.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#35698320)

The problem is that these uninformed people then go and vote based on their impressions. I don't mind people voting for a different candidate to me - that's one of the risks of democracy - but I wish they'd vote based on their interests or ideals, not based on propaganda. There was a survey after the 2000 US election which showed a staggering proportion of the surveyed electors had voted for a candidate who stood for almost the exact opposite of what they thought that he stood for. We saw the same thing in the UK - so many people voted for Labour because they were 'on the side of the working man', even thought they've been moving steadily into the authoritarian/right corner for a long time [politicalcompass.org] , and were largely run by rich lawyers and old money since the early '90s.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 3 years ago | (#35698424)

And, I wouldn't use anything from Arizona as a model for the rest of the nation!

Thank you SOOOO very much!

You can laugh -- I'm stuck living here. For at least a little while longer, anyway.

Re:Debates are like NASCAR (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 3 years ago | (#35699124)

For that person with only a casual interest, they're very revealing snapshots.

The problem is there is so much BS flung around in the debates with such little depth that any naive viewer is at least as likely to come away misinformed about any particular candidate as they are to actually get something meaningful out of it. Without context, the debates are just gussied up "he said / she said" contests.

You need a master debater representing you (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#35699022)

At best all you get to learn is how good a debater each candidate is.

If you want to have your constituency's views heard in the legislature, you need a master debater representing you.

Re:You need a master debater representing you (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 3 years ago | (#35699104)

If you want to have your constituency's views heard in the legislature, you need a master debater representing you.

Not really. By and large that stuff's just for the cameras - unless you literally want them heard. If you want them effected, you need a wheeler-dealer type.

Likewise televised exit polls (2)

paper tape (724398) | about 3 years ago | (#35698038)

This sort of thing is exactly why I have been against televised exit polls and election returns on national elections in the US while the polls are still open.

Exit polls and even preliminary poll results from the east coast are being broadcast while the polls are still open in other states, which influences the voters who have yet to cast their vote.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (2)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#35698154)

Any polls, really. They all impact people to some degree. Too many people are afraid of voting for the person they agree with if they think there's little chance they'll win, and for whatever reason, people only want to vote for a winner. I'd love to see those people simply excluded from voting, personally, but that won't happen either.

It seems like it would be a lot more accurate if people would be able to form their own opinions, rather than being handed the group zeitgeist. But then we'd have the same questions about "who quoted who" on the TV News: do you only get to see Jack Johnson lying, and John Jackson kissing babies? Do you watch only Faux News or the Colbert Report?

Nothing's perfect, or even close. So let's move to better educating people, in hopes that they will be able to better form their own opinions. Of course, the uneducated often think they have a right to choose stupidity for themselves and their children, but really, would they even notice ? :-)

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (1, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#35698180)

If you're two hours away from voting and you haven't make up your mind, you should be kicked in the fucking head with a steel toed boot.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (3, Informative)

paper tape (724398) | about 3 years ago | (#35698432)

If there are only two choices, I don't disagree - but if there are three or more choices, and everyone is telling you the one you really want to vote for doesn't have a chance, then the logical thing to do is pick the least bad of the remainder. It is exactly that sort of manipulation that has given us more of the same, election after election.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (1)

517714 (762276) | about 3 years ago | (#35701438)

That, and the fact that "convenience voting" (AKA absentee ballots) tends to further reinforce "picking the least bad of the remainder". The 2010 Maine gubernatorial election with five candidates might have gone to an Independent if those voters had realized that the Democratic candidate had no chance. The irony is that it was Democrats, not Independents who threw their votes away.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (2)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 years ago | (#35702190)

Which is only the case because the US uses simple plurality voting, which is the perfect method when there are exactly two choices (such asvoting yea or nay on a bill), but is actually the worst possible method (outside of methods that are actually crazy like throwing darts at photos of candidates). The paradox you mentioned, where you have to choose the lesser evil out of two rather than choosing the candidate you actually want (because that way the candidate you _least_ want will win), is the most serious flaw in the way US democracy "works". It funnels peoples choices towards a two party model. It's so bad that candidates who aren't either Democrats or Republicans are referred to, without apparent irony as "third-party" candidates.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698212)

I'm pretty sure the UK implements such a blackout. Some fat idiot will be along monetarily to rant about subjects, freedom of speech, and to brag about how big his gun is.

Re:Likewise televised exit polls (0)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#35698240)

Yeah, because only obese NRA members appreciate free speech. Moron.

but.. they're all saying it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698126)

When news outlets (especially the heavily biased ones) refer to 'polls' or 'the majority of the ${x} people', I always assume most of the article is coming from someone's ass. The newspapers with the biggest and darkest headlines always contain the most polls and showing what 'other people think', without any discussion on the range of possible decisions and their consequences. All playing on the social group-think urge a lot of the currently functioning brains have. This worm is no different, it's simply another form of social manipulation.

BRB, gonna manipulate my worm. (1, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 3 years ago | (#35698130)

an experiment with 150 participants in which they manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate.

Look, I know it's fascinating, and possibly addictive, but I think the field of wank research is well tapped out... Anyhow, what sort of research are you playing at wot involves 150 folks "manipulating" their "worms" all over a live election broadcast.

I take it they're electing porn-stars now?

Re:BRB, gonna manipulate my worm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698250)

Erm... trying a little too hard, I think.

Scape Goat. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#35698172)

Right. This real time response analysis is going to be the cause of people failing to "making independent evaluations". After all, they aren't already contracting their thought processes out to their religious texts, religious leader, party leader, opinionated bloviator, unions, or other deciders to make such determinations for them.

Radio v. Television (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698196)

Isn't this the very same story as age old radio v. television debate that happened between that one guy and that other guy?

Re:Radio v. Television (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 3 years ago | (#35699548)

No, this is the next step -- broadcasters basically add their own "boo" and "ahh" to the "debate", supposedly based on reaction of some never-seen "undecided voters".

!recent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698244)

A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (the 'worm')

Bullshit, we've had the worm in Australian political debates for nearly a decade.

Only the final influencer counts (3, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 years ago | (#35698286)

I doubt that all the different influencers are cumulative. I have a sneaking suspicion that if people are indecisive (and receptive) enough to be influenced by a "worm" during a TV debate, that influence will only last up until the next influencer gets hold of them.

Unless one single party has the ability to pound away at the electorate, to the exclusion of all other parties and opinions then I doubt that anything except the final exhortation to "vote for me" that they see on the way to the polling station, will have any lasting effect. Elections are like athletics: it doesn't matter who's in the lead at any time, except right at the end.

Everybody can be influenced; in a vacuum. (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | about 3 years ago | (#35699876)

I strongly disagree with your conclusion. People, almost all people, are susceptible to group-think. It's built into our genes that we want to agree with those around us, a sort of empathy. This may seem counterintuitive because it is a well known fact that most people are resistant to persuasion, but this sort of group influence relies on a lack of an opinion prior to the influence.

One thing that always bothered me was that after political debates all the networks want to show me a group of "independents" who tell me who won. On fox you can bet they vote republican, and on CNN it's always the democrat who wins. Thing is, I don't want to know who they thought won! I would much rather hear some post debate fact checking and then turn the TV off: I know my opinion is susceptible to influence and I'd rather protect it, allowing me to crystallize my own opinion.

Re:Only the final influencer counts (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#35703208)

There are idiots who just want to have voted for the winner. I don't understand why but they undoubtedly exist.

Herd mentality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698310)

Humans display herd mentality, news at 11.

Re:Herd mentality (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 3 years ago | (#35706076)

Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!

The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!

Brian: You're all different!

The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

Man in crowd: I'm not...

To be forver known as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698528)

The Clegg effect OR How to hang a parliment!

several native americans in presidential race? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698558)

are they proven citizens? many do not pay cash tax, or have any money. before we came, they didn't even need money? backwards thinking may be in order?

What does "winning a debate" mean? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698568)

The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet [*] the researchers were able to influence their perception of who won the debate

( [*] What does "and yet" mean here? If people had been aware of the manipulation it would have been even more effective?? )

A political debate is not an argument over facts that can be verified, it's all about impression and rhetoric. The candidate who leaves the best impression in an audience is the one who "wins" the debate. So if people are given a purportedly live data feed of audience sympathy towards the candidates, isn't that a much better measure for "who won the debate" than one's own impression?

Re:What does "winning a debate" mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35698796)

That's exactly the question, though: from where did "one's own impression" come? If it wasn't really what one thought, but what one predicted others would think or (in this case) what one knew others were thinking, then the debate was actually not even a factor, and in that case what was won, exactly?

New Headline: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35699290)

"Idiots Easily Duped by Smart Rich People"
World is shocked, until they remember how much they like rich people

Sounds like poll skewing (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 3 years ago | (#35700256)

Like the studies that show how you phrase a question can have a noticeable effect on the poll answers, just more sophisticated.

Emperor's worm? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#35701218)

Is this how Palpatine so expertly handled political affairs? I miss the Emperor's worm and Luke's trampoline.

Herd Mentality (1)

GeekBoy (10877) | about 3 years ago | (#35701562)

Just goes to show you that most people can't or won't think for themselves. Most people just follow the herd, no matter what that herd is... and if you disagree with that herd you are a moron or an idiot, etc. Another posted mentioned " what we see as reasonable is VERY often decided by the range of views we are exposed to" and I think he's got it spot on precisely b/c people don't think critically and usually aren't informed (but are more that willing to render an opinion.)

The problem is probably due to the fact that public high schools (most people only have high school education) generally teach people to memorize and recite rather than think critically. Think back onto most exams you've ever had (secondary and even post secondary) and how many of them required critical thinking ability? Very few. But you probably got great marks in most subjects if you could just memorize and recite data.

Welcome to politics (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 3 years ago | (#35704266)

This is the basis of all the conflicting polls that come out before elections. Most people are influenced by what they think everyone else thinks. The more you can make people believe everyone else thinks something, the more people you will get to vote that way.
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