In a previous essay on the suggested cruelty of Apprentice Sarah Louise, I questioned how it was possible for the overwhelming majority people to offer consistent, yet incorrect opinions, about individuals. Examples of these mistaken opinions are related, with extensive documentation in “Atlas Shrugged”, as compiled by Ayn Rand. We do not distinguish between opinions, regardless of the topic: ideas, events or people. Appealing to reality is not a requirement of offering an opinion and “under opinions, neither reason nor consistency has any point of contact with reality”.
Fortunately for our inquiry, we do not need to rely on “conventional wisdom” from 1957, as we have sufficient data from polling on the topic of congressional approval spanning several decades. The polling consistently reports that people do not approve of congress as whole, but approve of their own congressional representatives. If there were only one, or a handful of reports, we would suggest dismissing the findings as inconclusive. However, as there are hundreds of such polls, the data cannot be dismissed, nor would we willingly ignore the obvious contradictions.
To add perspective on the issue:
People disapprove of how the 434 members of Congress are doing their elected duty, but for an unknown reason, approve of their own single representative. If this were only one district, then, once again, we could question the contradictory findings, but these findings are consistent for all the districts. If I were a sociologist, I would suggest those interviewed are exhibiting “tribalism”, whereby those who are near are good, and those who are distant are bad. However, we doubt if tribalism is the answer, as these contradictory results are not found in other polling data, such as marijuana usage and legalization or contraception and abortion.
We believe the anomaly found in the polling data can have only one solution: opinions. [Some People Call Me the Master of Stating the Obvious]. People are offering their opinions, and in and of itself, these opinions are neither good or evil and we would suggest that these opinions are neutral. We seriously doubt that the majority of the electorate can offer an informed opinion on anything unfamiliar, and the workings of government are alien and the results of the government actions are difficult to qualify. However, when we analyze, that is, when we attempt to determine why the results are lacking in consistency, we encounter a problem: congress is bad, but my representative is good. If people who are offering their opinions, informed or otherwise, had a standard of determining the effectiveness of congress, then this consistent standard would either be represented or discernible in both data sets; for congress, as a whole, and for individuals members.
In most polls, contradictory findings are rare; if people rated the Easter Bunny highly and the Tooth Fairy poorly, then these results are not necessarily contradictory, as the one opinion has no bearing on the other opinion. However, opinions on Congress and opinions on Congressional members are connected, since the individuals are members of Congress. There is no reason or rationalization that could explain these results. At a minimum, we must conclude that opinions on congressional performance are unreasonable and irrational. The Gentle Reader may question if our findings should be limited to Congress or should be expanded to included all opinions.
We are now in a position to answer our query that we initially asked regarding Apprentice Sarah Louise's cruelty and the heartless individuals as related in “Atlas Shrugged”:
“How can so many people hold incorrect opinions about so few individuals?”
Other than providing inconsistencies, we must conclude that opinions, whether informed or otherwise and regardless of the topic, have no value.