Ethics Alarms Expresses Its Gratitude To CNN For Providing Such A Superb Illustration Of “Fake News” As I Compile The Directory Of Same

The fake news category is “polls.”

Gallup released the results of a survey in which various attitudes regarding the pandemic were explored. One question asked “How soon would you return to your normal day-to-day activities” if “there were no government restrictions,” giving respondants four options to choose among. The most popular answer was “after the number of new cases declines significantly,” getting 40% in the most recent results. The least popular answer was “after a coronavirus vaccine is developed,” with  9 %  choosing that.

Here is how CNN reported the results: Continue reading

The Knight-Gallup Freedom Of Speech Survey

A survey just released by the Knight Foundation and Gallup shows that More than 75% of the college students surveyed want “safe spaces” on  campuses that are free of “threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.” However, a majority of the same students support President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars from universities that restrict speech.

Though 97% of college students believe that free speech is “an essential pillar of American democracy”, a  majority of students support policies to restrict of speech on campus. 78% of students support “safe spaces” where threatening ideas and conversations would be barred. 80%  favor the establishment of a “free-speech zone” where pre-approved protests and the distribution of literature are permitted. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, May 2, 2020: Paid Liars, Paid Corrupters…

Beautiful day!

Outside.

1. Feel the restraints on free expression that inconveniences ideological agendas tightening? I do A couple of friends and commenters confirm that Zscaler, a service many companies use to monitor and block employee traffic on the web, blocks my ethics blog as containing “Pornography, Adult Content, Nudity, Hacking, Illegal, Racism, Hate or Violence, Phishing.”  Nice. So good for my reputation and business too.

2. It’s past time to conclude that no polls are trustworthy, and no one who cites polls as evidence regarding public opinion is trustworthy. All week long I’ve been reading progressive blogs  and sites telling us that the President’s support as measured by the polls is “collapsing.” Then today I see the latest Gallup survey claims that 49% of adults approve of the President’s performance, up from 43% two weeks ago. That would be the highest yet according to Gallup, if you trust any of these things now. I don’t, and you shouldn’t. Continue reading

Gallup’s 2020 Trust In Occupations Poll

I usually cover this interesting poll when it comes out in early January; somehow I missed it this year., and am getting it in right under the January wire. The results don’t change much from year to year, as you will see,  and this year was no different.

As the have for many years now, nurses, once again, top the list. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Confidence In Institutions Poll

After Charles Green‘s recent  Comment of the Day on the post, Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll, I was pretty sure that there would be an encore when I posted Part 2, an overview of the Gallup poll on public trust and confidence in American institutions. Charlie didn’t disappoint, so here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Confidence In Institutions Poll:

…I agree with you that this stuff is as mission-critical as anything.

As you know, my life’s work is studying trust, and while I focus on interpersonal trust, you can’t ignore the systemic institutional issues either. In fact, they are connected.

In fact, I agree with your fundamental point that the cure for what ails our institutions must lie in personal behaviors, personal relationships, personal ethics.

Without taking anything away from that fundamental and massive agreement, let me suggest two tweaks to the issue as you have presented it.

The first is that this is NOT simply a US phenomenon. I recommend even more sobering reading from the Edelman Trust Barometer, a study that has been ongoing for over a decade. See the 2017 version here: https://www.edelman.com/global-results/

That survey covers about 18 western countries: fully half of them report the level of distrust in institutions – business, communications, NGOs, CEOs, etc. – not materially different from what we see in the US. Continue reading

Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Confidence In Institutions Poll

In Part 1, we looked at the implications of Gallup’s 2017 polling on Americans’ beliefs in the trustworthiness and honesty of various occupations.  This post looks at institutions, and what Gallup’s research shows us when those polled answer the question, “Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one — a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little?”

As with the occupations poll results, what is most interesting—or depressing— is how the public’s attitude has changed over time. Gallup has been taking this poll at the end of every year since 1993, and in some years, for some institutions, before that.

The most important finding is that Americans have less trust and confidence in our institutions than ever before, and have been in this state for three straight years. (See chart above.) The 32% average confidence level in all institutions measured was one point above 2016, which came in at a record low 31%, but that difference is not statistically significant. This is the third straight year that the number has been under 33%. That has never happened before.

I have written about this issue in the past (and discussed it with professional groups, like newly elected state legislators, in ethics seminars), with the same alarm. For a democracy to lack confidence and trust in its institutions portends disaster, and the danger cannot be understated. Of all forms of government, it is democracy that is most built on a foundation of public trust. This erosion in public trust—the average level of trust has fallen about 26% in just ten years—is collectively frightening. Look at the first line and the last in many of these charts: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (1): “Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll”

My post on the Gallup poll on public trust in various occupations and professions strayed into Charles Green’s wheelhouse, and the resulting home run comment enlightened us regarding why nurses keep “winning” the poll as the most trusted year after year after year.

Here is Charlie’s Comment of the Day on the post, Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll:

Speaking just to the nursing angle: my work on trust has involved a diagnostic tool, the TQ (Trust Quotient), a self-assessment of the four components of trustworthiness in the Trust Equation:
(Credibilty + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation.

70,000 people have taken it, and three results stand out above all others.

First, women are more trustworthy than men – a finding confirmed by informal polls in 397 out of 400 groups I’ve presented in front of.

Second, the most powerful factor of the four (defined as the highest coefficient in a regression equation) is Intimacy.

Third, the bulk of women’s outscoring men is their higher score on the Intimacy factor (again, intuitively true to the vast majority of groups I ask).

It’s in this context that I note the Gallup work (and other pollsters) finding of nursing at the top of the heap every year but 2002 (which was, not coincidentally, the year after 9/11 – and a year in which firemen, if only for that one year, took over the top spot.

Nursing is an 89% female profession. I ask my audiences, “Which of the four trustworthiness factors do you think nurses most embody: credibility, reliability, intimacy, or low self-orientation?” Most pick intimacy (with low self-orientation a frequent second).

Add ’em up: female, Intimacy, nursing – it’s a trifecta. Continue reading

Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll

I’ve been following the Gallup organization’s yearly polls on public attitudes toward institutions and occupations for a long time. The results are in for 2017. I’ll discuss the ethics implication of the Gallup occupations poll first; Part 2 will cover the institutions.

The occupations poll tends to fluctuate more year to year, and is most interesting as viewed a competition. Who are most trusted and regarded as most honest? Who are least trusted? Nurses have been ranked #1 in public trust for 16 straight years. I guess this means not too many people watch “Nurse Jackie.” I assume the consistently high rating is because we tend to trust people we have to trust, thus confirmation bias, and because there haven’t been any major nursing scandals or “Angels of Death” in the news. As you will see from the chart, medical doctors are trusted much less. I think that’s the result of an illusion.

Only six professions rate as more than 50% “high” or “very high” for honesty and ethical standards: nurses, military officers, grade school teachers, medical doctors, police officers and pharmacists. The honesty rating of pharmacists dropped five points since 2016, however, and it an occupation that has sometimes finished right behind the nurses. Gallup guesses that the opioid crisis is to blame, and maybe that’s right, though I would think the doctors who prescribe the drugs are more to blame then the druggists who sell them.

Public views of the clergy have fallen like a Chinese space station. Before the Catholic Church child molesting scandal in 2001, the clergy was very trusted at the high 60% level. Now it is all the way down to 42%, though the total of high trust and average trust is still 85%. I think the film “Spotlight” hurt, as it should have.

Occupations that I would regard as having positive public trust include those whose high trust+average scores are higher than their low trust+average scores. That group, in addition to the occupations already named above, includes day care providers, judges, auto mechanics, nursing home operators and bankers. I think in all of these cases, the public has no real idea about how trustworthy these occupations really are. We just hope they are trustworthy, so again, we have a result that is polluted by wishful thinking. These people are entrusted with the welfare of our children, our cars, our parents and our money, plus the justice system. They better be trustworthy. Ignorance is bliss.

I confess amazement that Wells Fargo scandal didn’t result in lowered trust for bankers. Continue reading

How Cognitive Dissonance Works: A Case Study

Cognitive DissonanceJust last fall, the percentage of Americans identifying as Republicans and Democrats was essentially the same. Now, after months of the party being represented in the media by ugly, boorish, violent, dumb, name-calling Donald Trump, and the necessarily messy GOP debates that were the direct result of a major participant whose modus operandi consisted of mockery, lies and ad hominem attacks, this is the current split:

Party affiliation

Continue reading

On The Significance Of The AFA “Signups,” The First Of Many Other Shoes Drops

I am rushing out the door to remind D.C. lawyers about ethics, but I can’t let this pass:

  • Yesterday, James Taranto addressed some of the same issues that we covered on Ethics Alarms regarding the dishonest use of the ambiguous 7.1 million deadline sign-ups as a definitive measure of Obamacare’s success. Two of the culprits he quoted were E.J. Dionne and Paul Krugman, leading me to wonder why such performances don’t make it obvious even to knee-jerk Democrats that they are unreliable, biased, and dishonest to the core. Here’s Taranto on Dionne, for example:

It won’t surprise you to learn that Dionne did not demand accountability from Obama and the other politicians who sold ObamaCare on the fraudulent promise “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Rather, he asserted that the administration’s claim of having “hit its original goal . . . of signing up more than 7 million people through its insurance exchanges” was a definitive refutation of any notion that ObamaCare is “doomed.” What about insurance cancellations, narrow networks, high deductibles, blown deadlines, work disincentives, adverse selection and the law’s continuing political unpopularity? Dionne dispenses with all these problems in one sentence: “To be sure, the law could still face other problems, blah, blah, blah.”

Why wouldn’t this kind of blind, manipulative, Jumbo-worthy partisanship annoy everyone?

  • Yesterday the Gallup people released this, an extensive survey that gives some perspective on what the 7.1 million really stands for. No surprises there, either, for anyone not in a Dionne-like mental state. From Fox:

“A major new Gallup survey suggests the ObamaCare sign-up numbers are not as soaring as the White House claims. The massive survey, released on Monday, shows the number of uninsured indeed has fallen to its lowest level in years, likely thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measured the share of adults without health insurance. That shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014.The decline of 1.5 percentage points would translate roughly to more than 3.5 million people gaining coverage. But the numbers, released a week after the close of the health law’s first enrollment season, also suggest a far more modest impact on coverage than statistics cited by the Obama administration….”

The survey also shows that not enough young uninsured are signing up, a critical problem.

  • Whether the Gallup numbers are considered worthy of reporting by the other news media outlets should be a fascinating test of their depth of bias and lack of integrity. I’ll be watching…

No time for tags now—more later….