Our Most Popular Pundits Are

The Most Apt To Get It Wrong

>>Millions of people listen to this country's popular pundits, thinking in many cases that their opinions are "gospel."

But there's a problem.

An extensive study reported in The Wall Street Journal shows that not only do today's popular pundits get things wrong most of the time, but a coin toss has a higher probably of accuracy.

" Where men are the most sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken."
-David Hume

Philip Tetlock, a University of California psychologist, spent 25 years studying 284 leading pundits and their 82,000 predictions. His conclusion was that "the vast majority performed worse than random chance."

He found that the more famous they were the worse they did.  The reason suggested was that once they made up their minds, they did not want to consider new contradictory information -- the old, "I've got my mind made up, don't confuse me with the facts," syndrome.

>> Thus, the conclusion of this study is that, "Our political discourse is driven in large part by people whose opinions are less accurate than a coin toss." 

The Fox Factor

>> Possibly not unrelated, a new study by the University of Maryland found that viewers of Fox News, the home of popular conservative broadcast pundits, were far less accurately informed about world and national events than the audiences of other news sources.

The study found that there was a direct relationship between the amount of time spend watching Fox News and holding false information on key issues of the day.

No partisan divide was found. People who watched Fox News, and voted Democratic were just as likely to be incorrect on major issues as the Fox viewers who voted Republican.

>>Not unrelated, at least two of the popular Fox News pundits predicted that Romney would win -- "by a landslide" in one case -- the 2012 election. When it didn't turn out that way, the "landslide" pundit lost 50% of his listeners.

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