Americans largely mistaken about Obama’s record… librarians included?
I don’t read a lot of blogs so I don’t know, but I would guess this story is being blogged like crazy: Yesterday the Washington Post reported a Bloomberg National Poll: “Poll shows Americans don’t know economy expanded with tax cuts.” The story starts:
The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, expects to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue Wall Street banks and has overseen an economy that has grown for the past four quarters.
Most voters don’t believe it.
A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 24-26 finds that by a two-to-one margin, likely voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections think taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won’t be recovered.
Obviously, a librarian blogger has to say, “This is an example of why it is important to teach information literacy.”
I want to ask the question, though, if those polled got the facts wrong by a two-to-one margin, isn’t it likely that among those who have it wrong there are a lot of librarians, who presumably should know better? I am just wondering, how many librarians incorrectly believe, along with two out of every three other Americans, that during the Obama Presidency taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won’t be recovered? How qualified are the majority of us to teach the principles of information literacy that we so value?
5 comments on “Americans largely mistaken about Obama’s record… librarians included?”
I think that you make a valid point here.
In my opinion a large problem with how many librarians view information literacy is that they see it as linear process in which empirical reality yields a series of distinct “facts.” If information literacy educators are unable to teach students how to analyze the discursive framework in which facts are presented then we will not be very successful. We live in a heavily mediated culture dominated by sound bites produced by outlets owned by publicly traded corporations. Social subjects are not the atomistic rational “information seekers” that most information literacy theory presents. Everyone makes sense of the world filtered through a series complex social, economic, and ideological filters and relationships.
When evaluating the economic success or failure of a particular policy people (including librarians) generally rely on their own immediate experiences and preconceptions. Over the past thirty years the top 1% has gobbled up a tremendous share of the wealth, real wages have remained stagnant, and work insecurity has increased dramatically. The media has a done a terrible job in explaining the underlying causes of this situation. One could also argue that the current administration has done very little to challenge the financial sector in concrete ways. The Washington Post article states that we inhabit “an economy that has grown for the past four quarters.” Unfortunately, unemployment has persistently remained above %9. In this environment, it makes sense that people will rely on information that reaffirms their preconceptions.
However, the goal of an educator should be to teach students how understand the difference between empirical reality and an interpretative framework. Not because human beings are supremely rational, but because an interpretative framework that values empirical reality makes for a better society.
Thanks for your insights, Jonathan.
Librarians are just as succeptable to the “talking points” of either side as the rest of the crowd, especially if they do not investigate the “news” beyond watching TV.
The tax thing was, as Axelrod said, badly handled because they decided to dole it out little by little in the hope that people would spend it rather than save it, as they might if they got a single $200 check/deduction (or whatever it was). The admin is now paying for that blunder.
The real question is, if the librarian DOES get it right, would the public believe them? I have read several articles/news pieces (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128490874) that say that if one has a passionate belief (Obama is a Muslim, whathaveyou), information to the contrary actually strengthens your belief in the wrong thing! This does not relieve the librarian of their duty to offer information, but I do feel for those who go through the trouble and effort only to have it fall on deaf ears.
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