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March 13, 2012

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Rick

Thanks Luis, you beat me to it!

Niklas Smith

So true! This post reminds me of the last Sunday Times before the 2010 general election. The main leader and a double-page spread were devoted to trashing the Lib Dems' economic and particularly tax proposals, from which one thing jumped out at me: the article said that abolishing higher rate tax relief on pensions would hurt "the middle class". Given that only 3.8m out of 31.7m income taxpayers (12%) paid higher rate tax in 2010 that is a very odd definition of the middle class!

Source for that statistic is this must-read Economist article about how the middle class is misinterpreted in British politics, and how the real middle class have modest incomes and certainly don't send their children to private schools: http://www.economist.com/node/15777629

james higham

The thing is - some people just are better, mediocritizing "studies" notwithstanding. It makes the world go round.

Simon Jester

The thing is, if 90% of drivers believe they are above average, then a majority of them probably are. (Assuming that the other 10% are correct in believing themselves below average, and that the average is a threshold, not a band.)

Left Outside

"You're all individuals"

"I'm not"

Francesca

I don't think this counts as a social effect, but one of the consequences of this that I notice is that political campaigning is made more ineffective. I'm thinking in particular of the AV campaign, which was slated by someone as being "by Guardian readers for Guardian readers", most of whom were always going to vote for AV anyway. The campaign was very unsuccessful because its (highly educated, very liberal) designers assumed that the general public was just like them, and would be influenced by the arguments that drew them to the issue. Of course, this turned out not to be true.

It's why I am very suspicious of Twitter. I think it's an echo chamber, because people follow and are followed by like minds, but it gives us a fallacious impression that this is what the world is like.

Also, I wonder whether it increases suspicion of difference - that we are more inclined to ascribe hostile or immoral motives to people who are different from us, because they seem to us to be deviating from a norm that we made up? I can't adduce any evidence for that, though.

I remember the first Conservative I met when I was in college. It took me several days to believe that he really was both a Conservative and a student, and he wasn't just having me on.

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