One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy

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Oxford University Press, 2019 - Political Science - 360 pages
The deep divides that define politics in the United States are not restricted to policy or even cultural differences anymore. Americans no longer agree on basic questions of fact. Is climate change real? Does racism still determine who gets ahead? Is sexual orientation innate? Do immigration and free trade help or hurt the economy? Does gun control reduce violence? Are false convictions common?

Employing several years of original survey data and experiments, Marietta and Barker reach a number of enlightening and provocative conclusions: dueling fact perceptions are not so much a product of hyper-partisanship or media propaganda as they are of simple value differences and deepening distrust of authorities. These duels foster social contempt, even in the workplace, and they warp the electorate. The educated -- on both the right and the left -- carry the biggest guns and are the quickest to draw. And finally, fact-checking and other proposed remedies don't seem to holster too many weapons; they can even add bullets to the chamber. Marietta and Barker's pessimistic conclusions will challenge idealistic reformers.

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About the author (2019)


Morgan Marietta is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he studies the psychology of politics and writes about the political consequences of belief. He is the author of three previous books, The Politics of Sacred Rhetoric: Absolutist Appeals and Political Influence (Baylor University Press, 2012), A Citizen's Guide to American Ideology: Conservatism and Liberalism in Contemporary Politics (Routledge, 2011), and A Citizen's Guide to the Constitution and the Supreme Court: Constitutional Conflict in American Politics (Routledge, 2014).

David C. Barker is Professor of Government (American Politics) and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. Previously, he was Director of the Institute for Social Research and CALSPEAKS Opinion Research at California State University, Sacramento (2012-2017), and Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Pittsburgh. He has served as principal investigator on more than 60 externally funded research projects, and he has published dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles in outlets such as the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, and many others. His previous books include Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior (Columbia University Press, 2002) and Representing Red and Blue: How the Culture Wars Change the Way Citizens Speak and Politicians Listen (Oxford University Press, 2012).

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