By MARC McDONALD
As many pundits have noted, this has been one of the most wacky and bizarre political campaign seasons in decades. And I sometimes wonder if we've ever faced an election where the voters were less informed on the issues, and the candidates, than they are today.
I recall reading once about the early days of television. The great TV pioneer Philo Farnsworth, among others, had high hopes for the new medium.
"He thought it would wipe out the need for war, that it would end ignorance and illiteracy. He thought it was an educational tool," Farnsworth biographer Evan Schwartz said.
Needless to say, television didn't exactly live up to Farnsworth's early optimism. He died depressed and in obscurity in 1971.
Similarly, great claims were made for the World Wide Web in its early days. Given the unprecedented access to information that the Web unleashed, it was difficult to fathom how the Internet could ever lead to an increase in ignorance. But sadly, that's just what has happened. And although the Web has indeed been revolutionary and changed our lives, it has hardly wiped out ignorance. Indeed, we all have right-wing friends and relatives who exist in their own little fact-free bubbles and get all their "news" from the likes of Breitbart.
For example, anyone with a Net connection today has easy access to a mind-boggling amount of information and hard science data about global warming. Unfortunately, the same Web that brought us this easy access to such data has also brought us easy access to a huge number of sites that bizarrely continue to dispute the science of global warming.
Today, despite all our technology, there are as many, if not more, misinformed voters than ever before. For example, I get the feeling that only a small fraction of Donald Trump's supporters even really understand what his positions are on the issues. Not that those are set in stone (his positions often seem to change by the day). And we've all had right-wing friends and relatives who've assured us that Hillary Clinton is a "far-left" Liberal (a claim that is of course laughably inaccurate). Hillary definitely has her faults---but being far-left is definitely not one of them.
The FT Pub Quiz video below does a good job of reminding us just how wild and wacky this election season has been.