Talking empty heads
We recently asked if political analysts should be held responsible for their predictions. For example, what about all those television talking heads who foresaw Mitt Romney winning the presidential election? Did their constant babble convince lots of people that a Romney victory was inevitable, only to leave them confused when he lost?
Yet, those same commentators are still pontificating and, presumably, some folks still believe they know what they’re talking about. After all, many people seem to only want to hear whatever confirms their view of the world, whether it’s true or false. So, we find conservatives often watching Fox News as their main news source while liberals watch MSNBC.
This gets even more complicated due to rumors spread by the internet and electronic communications. Sometimes these stories are picked up and broadcast by mainstream news sources. For instance, it was reported that Hurricane Sandy caused major flooding at the New York Stock Exchange, causing a brief panic until someone actually checked and realized it wasn’t true.
It’s unclear why so many people, especially younger ones, believe unsubstantiated rumors on the internet. The same souls are often skeptical about the official explanation of almost anything. As Ron Nessen, press secretary for President Gerald Ford, once said: “Nobody believes the official spokesman, but everybody trusts an unidentified source.”
So, why do so many of us believe commentators and prognosticators, despite their losing track records? If someone has been wrong election after election, or has consistently given bad financial advice, or has predicted the end of the world more times than Chicken Little, why does anyone keep listening to them?
Guess there’s no business like show business.