There are two ways to read this poll. One is that a little less than half of straight people feel comfortable describing themselves as LGBT in the workplace, i.e. gay voice. Let’s hope that’s not how they understood the question. The other interpretation is that straight people have an idea of how safe it is to come out in their own workplaces, and it’s a lot sunnier than how their actually LGBT coworkers see it. Now is a good time to remember that online polls do not reflect broader trends. A full 27% of the respondents to this one identify as LGBT, which is about seven times the national average in the United States. That’s what you would expect from a poll about how you feel about describing yourself as gay. Gay people are more likely to click on that.
Yet a substantial number of straight people clicked on it, too—about three times as many as the LGBT respondents. Already, we see that we are sampling the opinions of a certain kind of straight person. They are not LGBT in their workplaces, but they feel like they know how it would go. Again, I guess it’s possible they didn’t read the question as a hypothetical and mean that they comfortably fake being gay at work, but one hopes a plurality of respondents aren’t doing that.
It’s likely respondents to this poll are imagining the experiences of their LGBT coworkers. More of them imagine that experience to be comfortable than report it as so. This result is similar to the result of this survey on blacks’ and whites’ views of racial discrimination. More white people say police are fair to black people. Fewer believe in blacks experience discrimination in stores and restaurants, or in that socioeconomic crucible we all know and love, the workplace. Black people and white people consistently disagree about the experience of black people by large margins.
When you put it that way, it seems obvious whom to believe. Maybe neither side is right. It’s probable that black respondents’ perception of discrimination against themselves is influenced by self-pity. That’s definitely been going on with white people. But at the risk of treating a premise like a conclusion: People who aren’t members of a particular group underestimate how much discrimination that group faces. Either that or black and LGBT people are just being babies. Somehow, that does not strike me as the likely explanation.
“Each” is singular, you guys. The question in the poll whose results are pictured above should be “How credible is each of the following?” Informal polling finds me unpopular, still. But this formal poll from the Morning Consult brand-tracking company finds that, despite widespread abuse of the phrase “fake news,” most people still think mainstream news outlets are believable. Sixty-three percent of those polled, for example, rated The New York Times as “credible” or “very credible.” It’s kind of terrifying that a third of respondents don’t trust the longest-established journalistic institution in the United States, and the write-up suggests that this portion is larger than it has been historically. But the overall lesson to be taken from these admittedly months-old numbers is that President Trump’s gaslighting re: news has not succeeded in turning Americans against the media.
You may have noticed a more interesting nugget at the bottom of the chart, though. A combined 19 percent of poll respondents said Breitbart was a credible source for news. That’s only one point higher than the percentage of respondents who said the same thing about The Onion, an explicitly satirical venture trafficking in obviously made-up stories. The Onion beats InfoWars, which I thought was implicitly satirical until about 18 months ago. But Breitbart is a horse of a different color. It puts “news” right in its name, and its former executive chair is now the White House chief strategist. That this nominal news organization would enjoy the same credibility as The Onion is astounding, given its influence.
But here we encounter the misleading elements of polls, which are—dare I say it?—kind of fake news. You will notice that the “credible” and “not credible” numbers for these outlets don’t add up to 100 percent. The missing portion comprises people who have never heard of the outlet in question.
For instance, 42% of respondents said they had never heard of Breitbart, which is heartening. According to the crosstabs, 32% have never heard of The Onion, and another 15% said they had heard of it but had no opinion of its credibility. One presumes that a significant number of these respondents knew it it was satirical and therefore found the question of its credibility irrelevant. While we’re presuming stuff, the spike in The Onion’s credibility among 30- to 44-year-olds might be attributable to smartassery.
Anyway, The Onion and Breitbart may not be comparably trusted so much as comparably unknown. That, too, is terrifying, given the enormous popularity of one and the enormous shittiness of the other. But the larger epistemological point—that we should not take this poll to mean that people trust Breitbart about as much as they trust The Onion—holds up. Polls mislead. Also, 17% of the country has never heard of the Wall Street Journal. What a time to be alive.
This obvious Photoshop really makes you think.
As near as I can gather from the markets, Britain has voted to break off into the sea. The British pound sterling—or “kwat,” as the Cockneys call it—plunged to its lowest value in thirty years last night, after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It was widely perceived as a victory for white nationalism, after pro-exit politicians stoked fear of Muslim immigrants streaming into England on EU passports. “Brexit,” as leaving became known, was so popular among assholes and so vehemently opposed by those who understood it—market analysts and journalists, mostly—that it came to symbolize the destructive ignorance of nationalist populism. This morning, the Washington Post reported that The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it. They’re dumb, is what we’re saying here. But the events actually reported turn out to resemble what you’d expect from any major event:
At about 1 a.m. Eastern time, about eight hours after the polls closed, Google reported that searches for “what happens if we leave the EU” had more than tripled.
If such phenomena prove the stupidity of our neighbors, we’re going to run out of dunce caps. Also, our neighbors will eventually train dogs to smell books and find our secret hiding places. Today is Friday, and it’s the dumbs against the smarts. Won’t you assume which side you’re on with me?
Look upon this Quinnipiac poll, O ye mighty, and despair. Asked which national news network they trusted most, 29% of voters polled answered Fox News. That gave Fox a plurality of most-trusted responses, ahead of CNN (22%) and ABC and NBC (10% apiece.) Before we shut down democracy and enter the market for a benevolent dictator, though, we should consider what this poll really tells us.
247 years of just sayin’ stuff
The internet dropped its fudge yesterday at the news that 44% of Republicans responding to a Fairleigh Dickinson survey said they believe armed revolution to protect civil liberties may be necessary in the next few years. By civil liberties, they mean guns. That’s why this whole violent uprising against the US government thing is a catch-22: they fight the revolution to have the guns, but they need the guns to fight the revolution. The only way it would be a problem is if Republicans were statistically likely to have a bunch of guns already, of if the stuff they said to telephone surveyors reflected anything they would remotely consider acting upon. Fortunately, one of those situations is not happening.