A recent article on one of my favorite websites, Factcheck.org describes a post-election poll that is sure to incite headaches in some (and infuriate others). It points out that, after the 2008 Presidential election was completed, a large portion of the country had completely bought into the “spin” (read: lies) told by both sides of the campaign; many Republicans still believe that Obama is Muslim, and many Democrats still believe that McCain was going to hack apart Medicare (neither of which was true).
What is most disturbing to me in the article is this statistic:
Political ads run thousands of times and reach far more people than articles on FactCheck.org. On our best day, we were read by 462,678 visitors. By contrast, the Obama campaign aired two ads claiming that McCain planned to cut Medicare benefits a total of 17,614 times at a cost estimated to be more than $7 million – which is several times more than FactCheck.org’s entire annual budget.
Considering that a large portion of the public believed the claims espoused in those ads, it would seem that two things convinced many Americans of its truth: repetition and money. By investing serious cash into commercials that aired repeatedly, the Obama campaign was able to convince many voters that McCain would be cutting Medicare (obviously the same goes for McCain’s ads on Obama).
I see two possible ramifications of this as it relates to education. First, maybe repetition is still an effective strategy for convincing people of something. Sometimes, repetition can be effective. Second, it seems like throwing money at an idea can be effective, as well. Is it just me, or are those some pretty cynical conclusions to draw from all of this?