Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why do Political Ads Work?

To me, political ads, much like polls, are nothing but background noise. I barely pay attention to them. I don't get my information from political ads, and I take broadcast news with a grain of salt. Primary sources of information come in the form of my own research, mostly conducted over the internet, and, I must confess, talk radio. I feel that Rush Limbaugh in particular has tried to be fair to all the candidates, though Ron Paul might be an exception. Paul receives a lot of ridicule (from myself included) but I have come to have a great deal of respect for the man, and far more respect for libertarianism in general than I used to.

Of course, no matter where the information comes from, I am left to evaluate it in light of my own worldview. Truth is there, but it can be a tricky thing. It takes work sometimes to overcome my own biases. I try to actively cultivate a willingness to change my mind when facts warrant it.

I must be in the minority though, since political ads, particularly negative ones, are very successful. Why so? I attribute it to the "80/20 rule," also known as the Pareto Principle, which basically says that only 20 percent of people are worth a damn in any endeavor. In church, 20 percent of the congregation does most of the work and the giving. The ratio holds true in corporations, volunteer groups.. pretty much across the board. A wise man once compared these alternative paths to two roads: one broad, straight, and easy to take; the other winding, narrow, and difficult.

So which group are you in? The 80 percent of fools* waiting to be coerced, shoved, herded, or bribed, in a particular direction (and who listen to stupid political ads?) Or the 20 percent group of people who can actually think for themselves and navigate the difficult path?

I like to think that blog readers are a little better equipped than most. At least reading various sources indicates an effort to tease out some information. If the Pareto Principle holds true, it does not bode well for a propaganda laden culture.

* I use the term "fool" here in the careful sense of one who is unwise, lacking discernment and sound judgment.

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