Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

Ken Kittlitz (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 16:06:27 +0000

At 02:35 PM 2/18/97 -0800, you wrote:

>On topics such as physics or computers, most people are willing, even
>anxious to admit that they don't know very much, and they are willing
>to defer to a surprizing degree to people who specialize in such topics.
>On political topics, however, most people hold surprizingly many
>opinions, seem remarkably confident in those opinions, and seem
>unwilling to defer to people who spend their lives studing such

A couple of possibilities come to mind. People may feel more qualified to
give opinions on politics than they do on say, physics, because politics
(of some form) is inextricably linked with the social structures to which
they belong. That is, they perceive politics having much more of a direct
impact on their lives than physics theories or formulae do, and hence feel
they are in a better position to comment on political issues.

Whether they really are in such a better position is, of course, another

Another explanation might be that people figure that social/political
studies aren't really "science", in that the researchers are often
prevented by ethics (and law) from setting up the tightly-controlled
experimental conditions available to some other sciences.
Ken Kittlitz
Kumo Software Corp.
Ideosphere Inc.