Dec 31, 2006

Americans Predict 2007

Posted by in category: polls

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans’ grim predictions for the United States in 2007.

But on a brighter note, only a minority of people think the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea over the countries’ nuclear ambitions. An overwhelming majority thinks Congress will raise the federal minimum wage. A third sees hope for a cure to cancer.

These are among the findings of an Associated Press-AOL News poll that asked Americans to gaze into their crystal balls and contemplate what 2007 holds for the country.

Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of another terrorist attack next year, more than five years after the Sept. 11 assault on New York and Washington. An identical percentage think it is likely that bad guys will unleash a biological or nuclear weapon elsewhere in the world.

A biological or nuclear weapon released in a densely populated urban center could kill millions. 60% of Americans think it is likely this will happen in the next year. There may be some overestimations of the probability because of confirmation bias, but still, this number is very high. It underscores the responsibility we have to do something about lowering that likelihood.


Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. michael vassar says:

    Cheap talk from random members of the public is meaningless.
    41% of the public claims in polls that foreign aid is the largest part of the federal budget while only 14% thinks that social security is. What fraction could find Iran or North Korea on a globe?

  2. Donovan says:

    Good point, Mr. Vassar. I hope that no one concerned with Lifeboat Foundation issues will choose to take the path of least resistance if I point out that “democracy,” as Mr. Heinlein has underlined in the past, is predicated on an algorithm which equates the free and independent choices of one thousand imbeciles, drug addicts or habitual criminals with the logically derived judgement of one perceptive genius. “Polling” as an instrument of public policy is worse than fruitless, it is entirely pernicious. An informed and balanced sheaf of analytical insights into current events, trends and trajectories of objective development might easily be expected to generate the following tentative conclusions: (1) Humankind will prevail, at least on the time scale used to assess the neo-Darwinian “success” of, say, sharks or mosses; (2) Humankind is in a state of radical transition from a prior state of unplanned and pointless punctuated adaptationism to a state of deliberately and willfully designed or planned adaptation; (3) This transition should be expected, on the basis of conservatively derived probability theory, to be characterized by a densely populated if closed set of blood soaked crimes and atrocities; (4) These catastrophic punctuations will inevitably include detonations of thermonuclear devices by emboldened individuals, non-state actors, and rogue states, as well as deployments of biological and genomic assault devices; (5) The stable collectives of the Occident will morph by varying degrees but successfully navigate these perturbations; (6) “Successful” navigation through these phase state transition spaces will entail knowing, conscious and deliberate choices by the directorial classes to accept or even enforce various liquidations of sub-populations, involuntary disseminations of synthetic genomic vectors, authoritarian direction of polyvalent monocentric memetic propagation, and multilateral cooptations of neurological predispositions.

    “Confirmation bias,” by the way, is all too real, Mr. Vassar. However, may I point out that the subscription of prevailing viewpoints by memetic minorities and perceptual fringe-groups need not detain the summary conclusions of informed non-state actos wielding conclusive authoritarian powers in distributive resolution spaces? Or am I going to be called a “fascist” again by the kind of childish non-promoters who defer fundamental decision making to the “Max Headroom” modules of Western liberal democrats?

    Time will tell, both in responses to this post and the changed rush-hour traffic patterns affected by “dirty bomb” fallout footprints.

  3. Thought-provoking; thanks. I agree that authoritarian social structures may become more likely, not because they are desireable but because publics and elites may perceive them as necessary for sustainability amidst growing uncertainties and fears. Perhaps percieved mistakenly; perhaps even otherwise.

    As children we studied ‘primitive societies’ and we accepted that their sustainable political systems must be consistent with the group’s environment AND TECHNOLOGY; why can we not accept that this obvious constraint also applies to our own ‘advanced’ society, and accelerating technological change, as well?

    This raises an important question, especially for those of us who are parents. IF accelerating technological change creates some (>20%?) possibility that 21st century authoritarianism could already be (in practice, not theory or wishfulness) unpreventable, do we betray our children by not even discussing how we might make such systems less destructive of thoughtful open society?

    My own personal inquiry continues at Feedback, including contrary viewpoints, are sincerely appreciated.