Poll: Politics Influencing Voters To Endorse Unfounded Theories

Apr 12, 2017

A Farleigh Dickinson University poll finds that political views are distorting the ability of Americans to tell fact from fiction.

Although there's no evidence to support it, political science professor Dan Cassino says two-thirds of the New Jersey residents surveyed believe that President Donald Trump is not releasing his tax returns because they'd show he has close financial ties to political and business figures in Russia.

"That's huge number for something that might be true, but just isn't true yet. Among Democrats the more political knowledge you have, the more likely you are to believe that. While among other groups the more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to know that just hasn't been proven yet."

Cassino says political partisans are more likely to pay attention to the news to find information that reinforces their false beliefs.

"People are very good at telling truth from fiction if they have the facts. But when politics gets in the way, their ability to tell truth from fiction goes in the gutter. People who are motivated to believe something because they like a candidate or don't like a candidate are going to find a way to believe that, and they're going to twist the facts to fit what they want to believe."

When politics don’t color their view, Cassino says people who pay attention to world events have a good ability to tell fact from fiction.