Monday, June 10, 2013

Fox News and the Stupid Factor

Over the past decade, several studies have shown that regular viewers of Fox News are more likely than viewers of other networks to hold erroneous beliefs. Whether the issue is the Iraq War, climate change, healthcare or even something as mundane as election polling, a vast majority of the Fox audience holds fast to easily refuted opinions.

For a quick and representative example, it was found in the 2003 PIPA study that 80% of Fox viewers held at least one of three misperceptions regarding the Iraq War: that WMD were found, that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and that he was involved in the 9-11 attack, none of which were true.

And in a study conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey it was revealed that Fox viewers actually are worse informed than those who watch no news whatsoever. That would include dogs.

This prompts the question: Do people watch Fox because they're stupid, or does watching Fox make people stupid? Studies now underway suggest that it may be both.

It is well understood that many Fox viewers tune in to have their personal (and incorrect) beliefs upheld by someone wearing a suit and possessing a full complement of teeth. It is also well known that Fox has a history of catering to these viewers by altering quotes, video, photographs and facts. There are whole organizations and websites devoted to nothing but chronicling these regular journalistic lapses.

"I watch Fox cuz it's the station our sweet Lord Jesus watches," said one survey participant, William "Corny" Buttpflug of Sumpter's Neep, South Carolina. "Them fellas is the only ones who tell the damn truth about that there goddamn Kenyan Muslin we got in the White House. I seen the black helicopters. They ain't gonna make me marry up with any a my boy cousins. And, I like all them honey-haired gals with the short dresses, too. Yes sir!"

This was a consistent response from those who regularly watch Fox News. But what about those who never watch it? How would constant viewing affect them? To determine this, people who watch other networks were chosen to watch Fox for twelve hours per day for one week.

"I am delighted and honored to participate in this important scientific study," said PBS viewer, Dr. Alfred Harbinger, NASA physicist, "It does interfere with my studies, but a wise man once said that a change of work is the best vacation."

A week later, all participants were interviewed and tested to see if watching Fox had any affect on their objectivity. A majority now felt that climate change was great (more beaches), that George Zimmerman should be next to Reagan on Mt. Rushmore and that the Republicans had created ten hundred thousand million jobs since January.

"Dr. Harbinger, are you ready to get back to NASA and resume your work?"

"NASA? Hell no! I'm a headin' to NASCAR! Yeee-haaaa!"

©2013 Kona Lowell