Majority of Americans wrongly believe US is in recession

Mendel

Senior Member.
This post is about pervasive bunk that exists (with a small bit of slant) across the political spectrum in the USA.

Nearly three in five Americans wrongly believe the US is in an economic recession, and the majority blame the Biden administration, according to a Harris poll conducted exclusively for the Guardian. The survey found persistent pessimism about the economy as election day draws closer.

The poll highlighted many misconceptions people have about the economy, including:
  • 55% believe the economy is shrinking, and 56% think the US is experiencing a recession, though the broadest measure of the economy, gross domestic product (GDP), has been growing.
  • 49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.
  • 49% believe that unemployment is at a 50-year high, though the unemployment rate has been under 4%, a near 50-year low.
Many Americans put the blame on Biden for the state of the economy, with 58% of those polled saying the economy is worsening due to mismanagement from the presidential administration.

The poll underscored people’s complicated emotions around inflation. The vast majority of respondents, 72%, indicated they think inflation is increasing. In reality, the rate of inflation has fallen sharply from its post-Covid peak of 9.1% and has been fluctuating between 3% and 4% a year.

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I'm surprised that
• the majority of the population is misinformed
• about easily accessible facts,
• and there seems to be no conspiracy theory involved.

What does it take to debunk that?

The Guardian holds a left-leaning editorial bias and sometimes relies on sources that have failed fact checks. Further, while The Guardian has failed several fact checks, they also produce an incredible amount of content; therefore, most stories are accurate, but the reader must beware, and hence why we assign them a Mixed rating for factual reporting.
 
This post is about pervasive bunk that exists (with a small bit of slant) across the political spectrum in the USA.
No, I think you'd have to call it pervasive bunk with an enormous slant. A certain ex-president is sucking all the oxygen out of the room, getting all the publicity for behaving badly, while I agree with you that the current president is taking care of business but not getting enough credit for it. My impressions from being in the middle of this 24/365/4 campaign season is that media outlets that used to be reliable have largely been supplanted by wholly-owned propaganda machines. These in turn have been outstripped by social media, where the consumer can find whatever he is inclined to find, which is usually confirmation of his existing biases. Throw in the overturning of gentlemanly norms of behavior, meddling by foreign powers who are all too happy at seeing the USA in chaos, add a dollop of AI, and it's a recipe for a long, hot summer. The truth is the first casualty of war.
 
No, I think you'd have to call it pervasive bunk with an enormous slant.
With other bunk, like Covid vaccine safety or the 2020 election, belief in bunk varies strongly by party association. With this economic bunk, the response is still slanted by party, but not by a lot. From the above article:
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That means the cause runs deeper than Donald Trump or Fox News.
 
My feeling is that there's an element of confirmation bias, or the spoonful of shit principle.

We're all embedded in a wide range of sectors of the economy: housing, energy, food, transportation, tech., leisure, etc. Whilst there's a fair level of interdependence and thus correlation between them they're not all moving in lockstep. My guess is that if, say, 50% of your "basket" is moving down slowly, 30% is staying level, and only 20% is rising, you're more likely to notice the 20%, and complain that eggs are dear, aren' they dear? (Everyone will have their own "basket", which is what I'm referring to, in most countries the official one's bunk. And this is a guess because almost everything in my basket has gone up at between 10% and 70% for the last couple of years. We're winning at western inflation here.) People are noticing the spoonful of shit in what would otherwise be a whole barrel of fine cognac.
 
My guess is that if, say, 50% of your "basket" is moving down slowly, 30% is staying level, and only 20% is rising, you're more likely to notice the 20%, and complain that eggs are dear, aren' they dear?
part of the reason why "the economy" is doing so well is that companies have been raising prices and their profits with it.
If the economy is doing well, it doesn't necessarily mean consumers are.
 
part of the reason why "the economy" is doing so well is that companies have been raising prices and their profits with it.
If the economy is doing well, it doesn't necessarily mean consumers are.
Absolutely. Many of the statistics are misleading, and misinterpreted. If huge swathes of people in the job market are working two jobs, out of necessity, just to pay the bills, that's probably not a positive sign. But, by heck, do the "employment" statistics look good.
 
Let's focus on one question...

  • 49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.

Unlike other questions, such as inflation or unemployment rate, there are no nuances. It's not a matter of interpretation.

-This question doesn't have any ambiguity to it. It's either yes or no. It's a market place. (I suppose there could be some people who would argue that the prices are fixed by some Dark Conspiracy, but that's really fringe.)
-It's easy to know the answer.
-It's not a matter of opinion but at least some people are engaging with it as if it were an opinion.

So what's up with the people who answer this question with a factually incorrect "opinion"?

Some options:

-They honestly don't know. Which means they are really out of touch with simple facts.
However, they are entirely comfortable with answering as if this were a matter of opinion. Shouldn't the honest answer be, "I don't know"?

-They get their news from fatally unreliable sources. These sources have told them that the stock market is down for the year. (Or imply such without stating.)

-They do know the facts, but they deliberately and consciously answer "down" when they know the real answer is "up."

This is later is contrarian. There's some reason why they are giving a contrarian answer.

Some options (perhaps additive rather than mutually exclusive):

-They don't think giving a contrarian answer to a poll has any consequence. It's the equivalent to trolling in a YT video comments section. So why not troll away?

-They are automatically giving incorrect answers without much thought.

-They are deliberately and consciously lying as an act of aggression. (Gaslighting)
 
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For me personally, my daily bills are higher (grocery store, daily driver maintenance parts, ordering take out, going out for meals). My property taxes, water/sewer and utility bills have gone up very little since I bought in November of 2016. I'm locked into a great mortgage rate. Luckily I'm not in the market for a mortgage or a car loan. I also got lucky and added a full bathroom two years ago. Costs on labor/materials for that have shot up. Also parts for my 1963 Chevy Nova I am restoring have gone up quite a bit, so that project is on hold. However I'm making less money due to residential contracting in my area steadily slowing down since Fall of last year. Now it normally slows down in the Fall, but it is slower than it has been since October 2012. And for 31 years mid-March or so it would ramp up again and we'd get busy. But not this year, every single contractor or supplier we speak to says the same thing. The phone just isn't ringing, we aren't doing many estimates. On the supplier side orders are down. We bought 8 full tractor trailers of PVC fence materials in 2023. We have only ordered 1 so far this year. We still have a yard full of materials, we are normally booked out 10 to 12 weeks by now, we are 3 or 4 weeks out right now.

Are we in a recession? Beats me, I chalk it up to people can't afford or are afraid to spend on a larger project (I know I am). Who they choose to blame or what name it gets is above my pay grade. That's just my perspective from my little sliver of the world.
 
That parallels an aphorism in political circles, back when I worked in politics, that everybody hates Congress but loves their Congressman. Some of that specific case can be put down to districts that lean one way or another, but I believe there is also a general rule here -- it's easier to believe that things are terrible over there somewhere, based on "what everybody knows," than it is to believe the same locally, where I'm basing my opinion on what I know.

(Presumably this could cut the other way, with it being easier to believe the grass is greener over in that distant pasture than over here on this side of the fence where I can see that the grass is looking kinda poor. I just can't think of an actual example as I sit here... Are people just more willing to believe bad news that conflicts with personal experience than in good news? Or am I just not remembering the numerous counter-examples?)
 
72%, indicated they think inflation is increasing. In reality, ..
based on that chart inflation is increasing. isnt that what +4% means?

49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year,
100% of these 2,119 Americans know what the "S&P 500 stock market" is? How many actually answered the question?

Can you link to the actual poll? I'm curious because i never heard the stock market is down this year or that unemployment is at a 50 year high (and i watch Fox News from time to time!)
 
For me personally, my daily bills are higher (grocery store, daily driver maintenance parts, ordering take out, going out for meals). My property taxes, water/sewer and utility bills have gone up very little since I bought in November of 2016.
Your perspective varies a LOT depending on your particular purchases or income. Gasoline here hit a high point many years ago in real dollars, even more in inflation-adjusted values, so a person who travels frequently is likely to be relieved by today's prices. Conversely, a friend's family-owned business is in a slump, with orders from international manufacturers so low that so far this year she has only received one pay check.

But I suspect that relatively few people do an in-depth analysis of all the different factors involved, and people tend to complain bitterly about paying a dollar for an orange nowadays while disregarding the fact that they think an expensive smart phone is a necessity, and pay to have it at their fingertips all day and all night.
 
But I suspect that relatively few people do an in-depth analysis of all the different factors involved, and people tend to complain bitterly about paying a dollar for an orange nowadays while disregarding the fact that they think an expensive smart phone is a necessity, and pay to have it at their fingertips all day and all night.
Agreed. I feel most people don't know how it all works so they affix blame according to which side they sit on politically. Democrats blame Trumps presidency for this, Republicans blame Biden for that. I see it amongst my family and friends.

We saw business starting to slow down more than normal in the Fall. So my boss decided not to buy a new truck ($60k). But one contractor we know replaced three trucks, two @$60k, and one which is a dump truck. Don't know what that cost but a heck of a lot more than a stake body truck! Now he's crying he has little work and three new truck payments. Who's fault is that? Biden's? Trump's? Lol...he did it to himself. But no one can convince him of that. My boss left the money in the bank, paid his taxes on it, and the rest will be used to keep the crews busy doing projects around the company property so they get enough hours to pay their bills. That's just how a small business has to do things sometimes.
 
based on that chart inflation is increasing. isnt that what +4% means?

Good point. I wonder how many people confuse continuing price rises, which you'd get with any inflation, with the rate of inflation rising.

Where people's wage rises don't keep up with inflation, they will become aware of being able to afford (or save) less, which might well influence their perception of the economy as a whole.
If economic growth is not proportional to an increase in population, then mean wealth is less, even if the economy is growing
(this is a simplification; there are many caveats).

Is there an agreed definition of what a recession is in America?
In the UK a "formal" recession is when there have been two consecutive quarters (plus) of falling GDP.
 
Is there an agreed definition of what a recession is in America?
In the UK a "formal" recession is when there have been two consecutive quarters (plus) of falling GDP.
two quarters sound about right.

Good point. I wonder how many people confuse continuing price rises, which you'd get with any inflation, with the rate of inflation rising.
the Federal Reserve aims for 2%. but even when it eventually (if ever) hits 2% again it's all cumulative. Poor people (and lower middle class) are gonna be hurting for a long time, noone should be surprised by this. Why do you think i wanted Biden to win the last election? Coming out of Covid was gonna seriously suck for whoever was in office.
 
Getting back to the topic...

49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.

Let me put it this way. Instead of a question on a poll, let's make this a question on a game show.

Host: For ten thousand dollars... Is the stock market up this year or down?

How many of those 49% would slam the big red button and shout "Down!" ?
 
How many of those 49% would slam the big red button and shout "Down!" ?
the real question is how many of the 2,119 said "i have absolutely no idea, i dont pay attention to the stock market"?

Was "i don't know" a possible answer on the poll? or were a large number of people completely guessing?

Did you know, before reading this thread, what the S&P was January 1st compared to May 10th?

If not, the mathematicians here would probably be able to tell us what percent would randomly guess "down".

(note: we have no actual data, in regards to this topic...as so far i cant find the poll)
 
the real question is how many of the 2,119 said "i have absolutely no idea, i dont pay attention to the stock market"?

Was "i don't know" a possible answer on the poll? or were a large number of people completely guessing?
Sadly, this article is badly deficient in its reporting on the poll... which was commissioned by the Guardian itself. There isn't even a link to the poll... that I can find. (To boot, this reporter has an unclear writing style. For example, more than once she writes "inflation" when it should be "inflation rate." You'd think a reporter would be able to write clearly. Professional wordsmith, and all that, don't you know.)

This similar article from Sept of '23 did include this...
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news...omics-poll-republicans-democrats-independents
The S&P 500 stock market index is up 16% so far this year. But 59% of respondents wrongly said they believe the S&P is down for the year compared with those who said they believe it is up (41%). The majority of all those asked said the S&P was down whether Republican (66%), independent (60%) or Democrat (52%).

Evidently "don't know" was not included on that earlier poll.
 
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Did you know, before reading this thread, what the S&P was January 1st compared to May 10th?

Yes. I did.

Do I know about the stock market? Yes... in detail. But that has no predictive power for the general population.

This poorly written article doesn't even give us a breakdown on how the different populations answered the stock market question.

The earlier article did. What percentage of the three populations gave the incorrect "down" answer?
Republican (66%), independent (60%) or Democrat (52%).

What would cause this bias toward the Reps giving the wrong answer to a clear matter of fact? Are Reps less well informed, or is there a bias toward giving a trolling answer?

I don't have the answer, but it's an intriguing question as to how many of these Reps who gave the "down" answer on this poll would shout "Down!" for ten thousand dollars on a game show.

How many of those Dems would do the same thing? Is there a Bernie Bros. contingent who are still angry at Biden for "stealing" the Dem Nomination in '20?
 
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There isn't even a link to the poll... that I can find.
Yeah, I didn't exactly have any success either. Maybe the Harris Poll webpage has some cranky behaviour that doesn't work in my browser, and others might have more luck from the same starting point:

https://theharrispoll.com/briefs/america-this-week-wave-222/ seems to be relevant, as they have a segment summary identical to the Grauniad's
External Quote:
Americans Fail Our Pop Quiz on The Economy: The Guardian-Harris Poll

We all know that Americans are sour on the economy. But indifference to real economic facts shows the deep pessimism is in our new survey with The Guardian.

Background: We asked Americans to answer a few questions about the actual state of the U.S. economy. Hint: It didn’t go well…

Over half (55%) of Americans believe the U.S. economy is shrinking this year (It’s growing).
Nearly half (49%) believe the S&P 500 is down for the year (It’s up).
The same number (49%) believe unemployment is nearing a 50-year high (It’s a 50-year low).

What’s going on here?

Personal finances skew economic perceptions: Two-thirds (66%) say it’s difficult to be happy about positive economic news when they feel financially squeezed each month.
Wary eyes cast distrust toward the media: Nearly two-thirds (62%) think the economy is worse than the media makes it out to be.

Takeaway: John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, told the Guardian that Americans are saying that “economists may say things are getting better, but we’re not feeling it where I live.” Unwinding four years of uncertainty takes time. Leaders will have to understand this and bring the public along.
And
External Quote:
Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from May 24th to 26th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,125 U.S. adults.
Download
links to https://theharrispoll.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Wave-222_Banner-4_Newsletter-combined.pdf
Which doesn't seem to have any questions that directly correspond to what's in that summary.
 
Evidently "don't know" was not included on that earlier poll.
Was "i don't know" a possible answer on the poll?
FWIW, as one data point, it was normally not our practice to include "I don't know" when designing a survey. We found that when you included that option, especially in questions where respondents might try to please the interrogator, such as "If the election were held today, would you be more likely to vote for (alternate) Slim Bullfrog, the Democrat, or Loren Ipsum, the Republican?*" too many people would avoid the risk of giving a "wrong" answer by just plumping for "DK/NA/UNDECIDED." Our experience was that plenty of people who did not know or were undecided would say so even without being offered the option and artificially drive up the Undecideds.** In the analysis, you could include or exclude undecideds depending on what you were trying to learn.

In cases where we DID decide to include it we had to wrap it in extra verbiage, like adding, "Many people follow the stock market closely, many others do not follow the stock market every day or even at all, so if you don't know it's fine to just say so." Or, if we were wanting to know how sure they were of their answer, we'd do a follow up question along the lines of ""Many people follow the stock market closely, many others do not follow the stock market closely or even at all, but have some impression of how it is doing. What about you? Would you say you are extremely certain of your answer, or somewhat certain or is it an impression?"

The exact wording of that could be debated all day, though for questions we'd asked before we tried to stay with the same language in every survey so the results would be comparable without a new way of asking the question potentially impacting the results.

----------

*We would include party affiliation as well as name since that would be what the voter would read on the ballot when voting. For non-partisan races, where only the name was listed on the ballot, we'd not include it -- only what was actually on the ballot would be included.

**I don't recall "None of the Above" or other "undecided " options being on the ballot in races I was working back in the day, but if it was we'd then needed to include it, since it would be an option offered to the voter.
 
links to https://theharrispoll.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Wave-222_Banner-4_Newsletter-combined.pdf
Which doesn't seem to have any questions that directly correspond to what's in that summary.

@FatPhil's right as far as I can tell.

External Quote:

  • 55% believe the economy is shrinking, and 56% think the US is experiencing a recession, though the broadest measure of the economy, gross domestic product (GDP), has been growing.
  • 49% believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.
  • 49% believe that unemployment is at a 50-year high, though the unemployment rate has been under 4%, a near 50-year low.
The poll underscored people’s complicated emotions around inflation. The vast majority of respondents, 72%, indicated they think inflation is increasing. In reality, the rate of inflation has fallen sharply from its post-Covid peak of 9.1% and has been fluctuating between 3% and 4% a year.
Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/22/poll-economy-recession-biden

If the linked-to document https://theharrispoll.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Wave-222_Banner-4_Newsletter-combined.pdf is complete and accurate, we can say this:*

(1) The May 2024 Harris Poll doesn't ask respondents if they think the US is in a recession.
(2) There are no questions concerning beliefs about the S&P 500 stock market.
There is no reference at all to the stock market.
(3) Respondents are not asked to estimate levels of unemployment.
(4) There are no questions about who might be to blame for any negative, or perceived negative, indicators or findings.

Almost all the questions ask respondents to rate how concerned they are about various issues.
They do not ask respondents for quantitative, or relative, estimates about anything as far as I can tell.
Respondents are not asked if the economy is shrinking or growing currently, or at any other time.
Respondents are not asked if the stock market is up or down for any period.
Respondents are not asked if unemployment is increasing or reducing now, or at any other time.

Screen "snips" taken from the Harris Poll May 2024 (link above) which feature questions which seem (to me) most relevant to the claims made in the Guardian article:

"TND01_2 How concerned are you about the following issues? The economy & inflation"

concern econ infl.JPG

"TND01_07 How concerned are you about the following issues? A potential U.S. economic recession"

pot us recess.JPG


"TND03 Regarding inflation and COVID-19, do you think the worst is behind us or still ahead of us?
Summary of the worst is still ahead of us"

summary cov19 and infl.JPG


"TND03_2 Regarding inflation and COVID-19, do you think the worst is behind us or still ahead of us? Inflation"

inflation.JPG


If the linked-to Harris Poll findings of May 2024 are the complete, sole source for the Guardian article
"Majority of Americans wrongly believe US is in recession – and most blame Biden", Lauren Aratani, 24 May 2024,
then the title and the main substantive claims of that article are not supported by the source.

Which might make the Guardian article bunk.

*I'd be grateful if others could have a quick look- I might have missed something.
 
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Regarding people not having any idea of what they're being polled about and often just say anything. I just saw a hilarious one (about a Cricket Sports tournament starting tomorrow)
https://business.yougov.com/content...e-us-ahead-of-the-icc-mens-t20-world-cup-2024
External Quote:
Half of American T20 fans think the US team will win the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup 2024
52% to be exact, thus over half believe what would be the biggest sporting upset in history is the most likely winners
:D

FWIW Due to the tournament structure, upsets are less likely than say the football worldcup.

Sure The average American knows next to nothing about cricket (FWIW it used to be the most popular sport in the US and in fact a cricket match between US and Canada was the first internation game ever of any sport!) but it does say T20 fans, so you'ld hope they would know at least something and they're not just rando people
 
FWIW, as one data point, it was normally not our practice to include "I don't know" when designing a survey. We found that when you included that option, especially in questions where respondents might try to please the interrogator, such as "If the election were held today, would you be more likely to vote for (alternate) Slim Bullfrog, the Democrat, or Loren Ipsum, the Republican?*" too many people would avoid the risk of giving a "wrong" answer by just plumping for "DK/NA/UNDECIDED." Our experience was that plenty of people who did not know or were undecided would say so even without being offered the option and artificially drive up the Undecideds.** In the analysis, you could include or exclude undecideds depending on what you were trying to learn.

In cases where we DID decide to include it we had to wrap it in extra verbiage, like adding, "Many people follow the stock market closely, many others do not follow the stock market every day or even at all, so if you don't know it's fine to just say so." Or, if we were wanting to know how sure they were of their answer, we'd do a follow up question along the lines of ""Many people follow the stock market closely, many others do not follow the stock market closely or even at all, but have some impression of how it is doing. What about you? Would you say you are extremely certain of your answer, or somewhat certain or is it an impression?"

The exact wording of that could be debated all day, though for questions we'd asked before we tried to stay with the same language in every survey so the results would be comparable without a new way of asking the question potentially impacting the results.

----------

*We would include party affiliation as well as name since that would be what the voter would read on the ballot when voting. For non-partisan races, where only the name was listed on the ballot, we'd not include it -- only what was actually on the ballot would be included.

**I don't recall "None of the Above" or other "undecided " options being on the ballot in races I was working back in the day, but if it was we'd then needed to include it, since it would be an option offered to the voter.
To expand on this...

The issues include:
- Response bias
Including "I don't know" (DK) in survey questions can influence responses because of the way people feel about the social situation. Respondents might choose DK to avoid providing a "wrong" answer, especially in socially desirable contexts.

-Normalization of Uncertainty
By giving people an assurance that it's okay not to follow the stock market closely, the survey designers are trying reduce the social pressure to appear knowledgeable, thus reducing demand characteristics.

My notion... my suspicion... is that this is becoming old fashioned. It's meant to accommodate the way people of yore... 10 years ago... were likely to feel. People, in days of yore, might try to please other people, even on an automated poll. My suspicion is that there's been a shift. We're now in the age of the troll. More people are more aggressive, more often... in a shallow keyboard warrior, phony tough kind of way.

More people, more of the time have been given social permission to give troll answers. People say, and type, things they know aren't true, and this is meant to dominate other people. It's called gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a target, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity.
Mechanism: By insisting on falsehoods, the aggressor can destabilize the victim's sense of reality and self-confidence, leading them to become more dependent on the manipulator's version of reality.


Look at the wording used in clickbait YT video descriptions.

"Mr A DESTROYS Mr B in EPIC Debate!"
"Shocking Outcome! Mr A Annihilates Mr B!"
"Mr A Leaves Mr B Speechless with These Arguments!"
"Moment When Mr A Exposes Mr B's Lies!"
"What Mr A Says Next Will Change Everything!"

This aggressive attitude is rife in interpersonal relations online: YT video comments sections, Twitter, etc.

No one is ever destroyed or annihilated, of course. No Flat Earther ever destroyed or humiliated me in an exchange in a YT video comments section, nor has any Flat Earther ever been destroyed. The lesson is not to return to reason... it's just to try even harder to humiliate or destroy.


Another, possibly, outdated technique:
-Certainty Follow-up
Asking respondents to rate their certainty helps distinguish between those who are truly knowledgeable and those who are guessing, further refining the data quality.

In days of yore... 10 years ago... people might become more thoughtful. I suspect that this makes the modern man more aggressive and he expresses more certainty, rather than less. He's trying to destroy the survey taker, not be nice.

I don't know if anyone has addressed this issue in terms of survey design. I think it should be looked into.
 
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People say, and type, things they know aren't true, and this is meant to dominate other people. It's called gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a target, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity.
Mechanism: By insisting on falsehoods, the aggressor can destabilize the victim's sense of reality and self-confidence, leading them to become more dependent on the manipulator's version of reality.

There are numerous reasons why someone might knowingly give dishonest answers to a pollster.

But giving dishonest answers is simply misleading, whatever the purpose. It isn't gaslighting.

"Gaslighting", as a type of deceptive behaviour, is deliberately making a victim doubt their own recall/ judgement/ sanity by convincing them that something that they know, correctly, to be true isn't true.
It's normally seen as a form of emotional abuse, and is sometimes an aspect of coercive control within a close relationship, although it can occur in other settings.

Someone giving dishonest answers to a pollster can mislead them about their (the respondent's) beliefs, but the pollster will never know, and on an individual basis won't care. There is nothing a respondent might do in answering a properly-conducted poll that will make someone conducting that poll literally question their own sanity, or become more dependent on that respondent (who of course they don't know).

Polling organisations know that some people will give dishonest answers (i.e. not state what they really believe), or give answers that are unreliable for other reasons.

(Edited to add) e.g.
External Quote:
Over time, a number of theories and mechanisms have been offered to explain erroneous polling results. Some of these reflect errors on the part of the pollsters; many of them are statistical in nature. Others blame the respondents for not giving candid answers (e.g., the Bradley effect, the Shy Tory Factor); these can be more controversial.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_poll

-Also social desirability bias ("Do you think you wash less often than the average person?" might not get honest results). Some individuals might deliberately give misleading answers for other political/ social reasons, e.g. they might not have a fear of crime in their neighbourhood but nonetheless would like there to be more police officers.

Polling organisations try to take account of this when interpreting their data, and allocate a margin of error.
An organisation whose polls have a reputation for being unreliable isn't going to get further commissions.
 
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I disagree. Gaslighting is an aggressive behavior that does not arise from System 2 thinking. Some people may engage System 2 and recognize what they are doing, but that doesn't mean all people who engage in this aggressive behavior consciously plan their behavior. Case in point. Children often engage in gaslighting behavior.

It's an aggressive behavior that's been selected for because it works.

Another issue, apart from the effect on our society from social media. We're a society under stress and aggressive behaviors come out when a population is under stress.

We will have an actual civil war? No, that can't happen the way it did in our American Civil War.

But we are seeing a society under stress in a similar way. The issues are remarkably the same, because the issues never went away.
 
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A respondent to a properly conducted poll is not in a position to gaslight a pollster.

They might lie to them, but lying is not in itself gaslighting.

The idea that by giving untrue answers in a poll a respondent is gaslighting someone conducting that poll is an extraordinary claim.
Where is the evidence? And by what mechanism would this happen?

I'm bearing in mind the serious nature of gaslighting on its victims. I don't think that should be minimized.
 
Factors that make the U.S. a different kind of place.

-The U.S. had a revolution that was based on an ideology which was new and radical. In Europe allegiance to, or opposition to a particular royal family, or to a particular religion had been the main issue. In America, a humanist ideology became the issue. You're a true American if you follow the American ideology and you're not if you don't. The American Way, so much talked about in the 1950's, is about ideology. Just being born here isn't sufficient for being a true American. You have to uphold the ideology. A mirror image of the Communist Way. At it's crudest level, the harder you wave the flag, the more American you are. (Communists were pretty hard flag wavers too. And so were Fascists and Nazis.)

-European immigration surged in the 19th century. People who had essentially been Serfs found themselves landowners. (See the movie and sequel The Emigrants - The New Land). Self-improvement, self-responsibility, meritocracy became a very important issue which people consciously enshrined as an essential part of the American spirit.

-Separation of Church and State led to a surge in religious feeling, much to the surprise of contemporary thinkers who had thought religion would be in trouble. This is extremely important. Emigrants and native born Americans alike who had been defined by social status, class status, wealth, etc. lost all those things. Personal identity and one's place in society were now defined by a self-chosen... a self-MADE church.

The Indian Removal Act: A major turning point in U.S. history occurred during the Jackson Administration.

Earlier, Thomas Jefferson expressed a commonly held belief that Slavery was a slowly dying institution and there was evidence to support that. The intellectual belief among Jeffersonians was that the Anglo-Saxon Culture was superior, and the push was to have Native Americans adopt western culture. It was a school of thought that was essentially against a class-based society.

Large scale immigration of primarily old white southern families (Virginia became depopulated for example) into this confiscated area was extremely important.
-This area was suited for cotton production based on slave labor.
-It was based on and very much strengthened the ideology of White Supremacy and a pseudo-aristocratic society. Even dirt poor whites could share in this class-based society, because at least they were a part of the White Anglo-Saxon class. Something like an Old World caste system.


-The Civil War defined the U.S. The major issue between the cultures of North and South was this:
The South was a Pseudo-Aristocracy with slave labor and an attempt at a class based society.

The North was a chaotic society based on mercantilism and immigration from non-Anglo-Saxon, non-protestant countries. There was at least some talk about meritocracy and a classless society; but the North was a chaotic society that had no standard ideology. This chaotic nature itself is something that Southerners scorned.

Abolitionists were much reviled in the North. Northerners were just as racist. The slavery issue was not about humanitarian concerns, but about labor practices. Northerners reviled slavery as a pernicious system that led to pseudo-aristocracy and dissipation. In their mind this was anti-American.

The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It, is a book that is now mostly forgotten but was very important in the years just before the American Civil War.

"The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It" is a book written by Hinton Rowan Helper, published in 1857. This book is significant for several reasons, especially in the context of the antebellum period leading up to the American Civil War.

Summary
Hinton Rowan Helper, a Southern critic of slavery, used economic arguments to highlight the detrimental effects of slavery on the South. Helper's central thesis was that slavery was economically inefficient and morally wrong. He argued that slavery stifled economic development, suppressed the progress of non-slaveholding whites, and impeded the South's overall growth and modernization compared to the free labor North. The book is notable for its detailed statistical analyses and comparisons between the economies of slave and free states.

Key Points
Economic Critique of Slavery: Helper asserted that slavery was the main reason for the South's economic backwardness. He provided data showing that the Southern economy lagged behind the Northern economy in terms of industry, infrastructure, and general prosperity.

Appeal to Non-Slaveholding Whites: The book specifically targeted non-slaveholding whites in the South, urging them to oppose slavery for their own economic benefit. Helper believed that these individuals suffered the most from the entrenched institution of slavery.

Anti-Slavery Stance: While Helper's opposition to slavery was based on economic and social grounds rather than purely moral or humanitarian concerns, his book added to the growing anti-slavery sentiment in the North.

Racial Views: Despite his opposition to slavery, Helper held racist views and supported white supremacy. He advocated for the exclusion of black people from American society and supported their colonization abroad.

Importance Before the Civil War
Political Impact: The book was used by the Republican Party to bolster their anti-slavery platform. Helper’s arguments provided a powerful economic critique of slavery that supplemented the moral and political arguments made by abolitionists.

Southern Backlash: "The Impending Crisis of the South" was banned in many Southern states. Its circulation and the adoption of its arguments by Northern politicians increased tensions between the North and South. Southern leaders viewed Helper's work as a direct attack on their way of life and economic interests.

Influence on Public Opinion: The book reached a wide audience and contributed to the national debate over slavery. Its statistical approach and economic arguments offered a different perspective from the predominantly moral arguments of the abolitionist movement, thus broadening the appeal of anti-slavery sentiment.

Precursor to Conflict: The publication and dissemination of Helper's book can be seen as part of the broader set of events and publications that exacerbated sectional tensions. It provided ideological ammunition to those in the North who were increasingly viewing slavery as not just a moral blight but an economic hindrance to national progress.

By framing slavery as an economic liability rather than solely a moral issue, Helper's book appealed to a broader audience and intensified the national discourse on slavery, contributing to the mounting tensions that eventually led to the Civil War.


This never went entirely away. This present clash is between the chaotic, mercantilist, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religion culture which has no set rules -

and the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Hegemony with set rules about religion, gender, race etc. The later sees itself rapidly losing power, and there's an air of crisis and of desperation.

It's a messianic culture and Trump has become their shabby messiah. It's no accident that they think he has been sent by God to set things right in a kind of mini-apocalypse.

It's less about South against North - although that's still important - and more about Rural versus Urban. The deciding factor is becoming the change in the Suburbs.

A word about White Supremacy

https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black...t-demographics-of-the-jan-6-insurrectionists/

https://www.voanews.com/a/usa_who-were-us-capitol-rioters/6201956.html

A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that many of the January 6 rioters came from areas experiencing demographic changes, specifically shifts from predominantly white populations to more racially diverse ones. The research indicates that more than half of the rioters hailed from counties that Trump lost to Biden, which are often more racially mixed and have higher unemployment rates compared to the national average.

This demographic shift appears to have fueled anxiety and resentment among these individuals, contributing to their participation in the insurrection. This pattern suggests that the rioters were not solely from traditional Republican strongholds but from regions undergoing significant social and economic transformations, highlighting the role of demographic changes in driving political unrest.

Not the only issue involved, but still important. And a holdover from the 19th century that never went away.


A word about Class and Individualism.

Pseudo-Aristocracy is dead. In the 1960's you could still see houses in Virginia with family trees displayed on the wall. People still thought being descended from the First Families of Virginia and English Aristocracy meant something socially.

Snooty old gals from Boston still bragged about their "Mayflower Ancestors." (Mrs. Drysdale - The Beverly Hillbillies). The Daughters of the American Revolution was still sort of a thing, but quaint.

No one cares anymore about Pseudo-Aristocracy.

What still is a thing: The 19th century American Ideal of Individualism. That's something that Northern and Southern Rural folk agree on. That's why "Socialism" is a hot button issue. It's Anti-American.

Also, still a thing: Being white Anglo-Saxon protestant is a class you can't enter through merit. You're born into it or not. White Supremacy is still a thing.



A final source of stress: The rural areas of the US continue to go down hill economically while the urban and suburban areas continue to be economic engines.

I was struck recently by the comment made by Trae Crowder, describing what happened to his small hometown when the one factory that was the economic engine shut down and moved to Mexico. "When the jobs moved out, the pills moved in."

He's talking about opiates. This struck me because the purpose of these opiates is to relieve pain. It's not a metaphor that the pills came in because the people were in pain.

People who had respect for themselves lost the ability to take care of themselves. They lost the ability to ask for respect because of accomplishments and went back to the old cliché model; "Respect me, or I'll beat you to death." That's why we see the extremely aggressive behavior, that mirrors the ghetto idea of respect. It's over-compensation.
 
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A respondent to a properly conducted poll is not in a position to gaslight a pollster.

They might lie to them, but lying is not in itself gaslighting.

The idea that by giving untrue answers in a poll a respondent is gaslighting someone conducting that poll is an extraordinary claim.
Where is the evidence? And by what mechanism would this happen?

I'm bearing in mind the serious nature of gaslighting on its victims. I don't think that should be minimized.
Once again it's an aggressive behavior. The behavior and the result of the behavior shouldn't be confused.

The behavior of a hen turning her eggs involves both proximal behaviors and distal effects:

Proximal Behaviors and Effects:
Proximal Behavior: The hen senses that the egg has become warm and responds by turning it. This immediate action is based on the hen's sensory feedback and instinct.

Proximal Effect: Turning the egg helps to regulate the temperature and ensure even warmth distribution. It also prevents the developing embryo from sticking to the shell. These effects are directly observable and occur immediately after the behavior.

Distal Effects:
Distal Effect: Over time, the consistent turning of the egg by the hen ensures the proper development of the embryo. This long-term outcome is not immediately visible but is crucial for the successful hatching of a healthy chick. If the hen did not turn the egg, the embryo could potentially die, resulting in the failure of the egg to hatch.

Analysis:
Temporal Relationship: The turning of the egg (proximal behavior) is an immediate response to the warmth (proximal effect), which over time contributes to the survival and healthy development of the embryo (distal effect).

Behavioral Motivation: The hen’s behavior is motivated by instinctive cues such as the warmth of the egg. These immediate cues drive the proximal behavior, which is essential for achieving the distal effect.

Importance of Proximal Behaviors: While the proximal effects like temperature regulation and preventing the embryo from sticking to the shell are immediately beneficial, they are crucial steps in ensuring the distal effect, which is the successful development and hatching of the chick.

In summary, the hen’s proximal behavior of turning the egg due to sensing warmth has an immediate effect on the egg’s condition, which is essential for achieving the distal effect of successful embryo development and hatching. This example illustrates how proximal behaviors are integral to achieving long-term outcomes in biological processes.

Humans aren't hens. No... but neither is most human behavior based in System 2 thinking. Gaslighting is a proximal behavior that may or may not have the distal effect of shaping some other person's behaviors and attitudes. It may never have more than a proximal effect. People may ignore the aggressive behavior, they may be irritated, they may push back, or they may punch the guy in the face.

And the proximal aggressive behavior may only be sporadic and situational, which also will not lead to the distal effect of changing a target person's behavior to abject submission. But it's still the same behavior.
 
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Other major sources of stress for the society as a whole:

-Number one: The housing shortage

-The rise of the part time job and the gig economy with no benefits or job security... or job satisfaction.

Help me out here. Give some more examples.
 
I'd say the major stressor right now is the collapse of the systems that used to provide us with connections to one another. Everything from how we can't talk politics with one another any more, to how we bowl alone, to the dwindling of religious affiliations, and so on. We are on the Internet watching content and only seeing posts from people who agree with us, and we're starting to realize that's not really the same thing as having friends, as being part of a society, of having common experiences to talk about and even to disagree about. Too many of us are too alone, and that's a source of stress for a species evolved to live socially.
 
I'd say the major stressor right now is the collapse of the systems that used to provide us with connections to one another. Everything from how we can't talk politics with one another any more, to how we bowl alone, to the dwindling of religious affiliations, and so on. We are on the Internet watching content and only seeing posts from people who agree with us, and we're starting to realize that's not really the same thing as having friends, as being part of a society, of having common experiences to talk about and even to disagree about. Too many of us are too alone, and that's a source of stress for a species evolved to live socially.
A friend and I ate out yesterday. A woman of about our age came in and ate alone at the next table. A decade ago I'd have asked her to join us, but our current national mistrust of strangers prevented me from doing so, and I hate that I feel that way. When I say "mistrust", I'm not talking about physical or financial mistrust. We had no fear of being cheated or assaulted by a well-dressed woman of eighty. But there are so many topics of conversation to be avoided if a stranger turns out to be, say, an opponent in politics or religion, an anti-vax conspiracist, a believer in woo, etc. So many pitfalls exist that have already proved detrimental to friendships or families that many of us have withdrawn into our own bubbles; in your words "only seeing posts from people who agree with us", partly because it's so frustrating to realize that there is so little "middle ground" upon which to meet.
 
I notice more and more that people don't seem to have an open mind or respect someone else's view of things. I try to keep an open mind about most things. Even though I may think my way of thinking is right, that doesn't mean I shouldn't listen to other ideas. Someone could provide evidence or a theory and I could change my mind. Ann K's post above is a great example. I used to enjoy conversations about religion. I learned why those people chose to believe, but more importantly I was learning why I don't. Now I don't entertain those conversations, I started to be treated differently once people found out I wasn't a believer. So for the sake of being included socially, I stay out of those conversations unless I know the person/people very well and that they enjoy a viewpoint that differs from theirs. I have a close friend for 35 or so years. He and I enjoy talking about it, he is a believer. We also were on different sides about 9/11, in fact he believed in a lot of conspiracy theories. But we would talk things out and I told him about this forum. He now agrees that 9/11 played out like the official narrative says. He was also all in on the "Pizzagate" pedophilia stuff, Anti-Vax...etc. Thanks to the folks here he realized how far down the rabbit hole he was. I'm still working on him believing every rumor as fact when it comes to Youtubers talking about when NASCAR throws a caution flag or let certain teams cheat to affect the outcome of a race. This includes NHRA drag racing as well...Lol
 
People may ignore the aggressive behavior, they may be irritated, they may push back
But look at the questions asked in the Harris Poll survey.
I definitely agree that some respondents might give dishonest answers, and a minority of those might think that this somehow impacts personally on someone doing the polling and are choosing to act maliciously.

But no answer or combination of answers that any given respondent supplies is going to make someone conducting the polling doubt their (accurate) memories of events in their own lives.

Personally I don't think polls are skewed by significant numbers of respondents futilely attempting to gaslight (as opposed to just deceive) pollsters in any sensible use of that term.

Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.
 
I'm not going to agree to disagree with someone who doesn't understand the science. You're still mixing up behaviors and effects, which is a fundamental error. That's too bad.
 
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I'll try one more time. Gaslighting behaviors don't have to be conscious behaviors. They usually aren't, as a matter of fact. They are aggressive behaviors that have been selected for. Children often display gaslighting behaviors, for example. They often don't work. Usually don't.

An example. The kid is caught with crumbs on his face and his hand literally in the cookie jar. But he denies that he ate the cookies. That's gaslighting behavior. It's a universal human behavior.

Gaslighting behaviors don't have to have any effect at all. They still remain behaviors, independent of any effect.

If you look up "Gaslighting" in a simple reference intended for the general public, you'll get a simple example. A successful campaign by a narcissist that results in the targeted person changing behaviors and attitudes. But that's a special case within the larger issue. It's also oversimplified.
 
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What the heck are you disagreeing with? It's like disagreeing with conservation of momentum.
I personally disagree with your interpretation of what gaslighting is. Nobody is questioning their sanity after seeing someone else give an uninformed answer, there is no gaslighting.
 
Gaslighting behaviors are independent of the distal effect of questioning sanity. They are also independent of proximal effects. Are you sure you understand the concepts involved? I didn't make them up.


Example:
Mechanism: Fats, carbohydrates and salt are hard to come by in a natural environment, so we evolved to seek these things and find those things highly rewarding. (See: Incentive Salience System and Hedonic Impact System.)

Proximal behavior: Eat a lot of carbs, fats and salt.

Proximal effect: It gives you yummy chills.

Distal effect: You get obese and you develop type II diabetes.

Desire and reward are a mechanism, eating is a proximal behavior, obesity is a distal effect. (Is there such a thing as "Obesity Eating"? I guess you could call it that. The neologism might even catch on. But it wouldn't be scientific.)

But what if you had a partial, non-functioning stomach and had a gastric suction device put in place? (These devices are used to remove the contents of the stomach immediately)

The brain mechanism (desire and reward) would still be there and the proximal behavior could still be there, and even the proximal effect might be there at least to some extent, but the distal effect would not happen. Mechanisms and proximal behaviors are independent of both proximal effects and distal effects. They exist in and of themselves. I hope that makes sense.

Let's look at the poll in question:

Mechanism: Aggression serves adaptive purposes such as protecting resources and asserting dominance. Aggressive behaviors have been selected for. Social learning - or observational learning - is important too. (See: Social Learning Theory; Albert Bandura.)

Proximal behavior: Lies, distortions, denial of facts (gaslighting behaviors) because the guy taking part in the poll is angry, and he's learned maladaptive social behaviors. (Yeah, okay, it doesn't "make sense" to act this way in this situation. People always act logically?)

Proximal effect: None. The poll taker is not affected by the aggressive behavior.

Distal effect: The poll does not accurately reflect the population's knowledge.

I hope this makes sense. Aggressive behaviors exist as things in themselves. Sometimes they lead to one kind of effect and sometimes they lead to another kind of effect. A difficult concept but science is challenging. The fundamentals were worked out many decades ago. See: Functionalism (Thorndike) and Mechanistic Behaviorism (Skinner).

These concepts are important in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

If you can't stomach calling these aggressive behaviors "gaslighting", I suggest you just call them "aggressive behaviors." But... they look just like the behaviors a narcissist displays when he's gaslighting. (They are the same behaviors.)

Even in the simplified literature you'd find online, "Gaslighting" is recognized as a behavior, not an effect. In YT videos on the subject, therapists talk about recognizing and resisting a narcissist's gaslighting behaviors. Even in YT therapy, "Gaslighting" is just a behavior that doesn't have to lead to someone doubting their sanity.

That's an important concept in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. People's behavior doesn't have to lead to an effect on you.
 
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