For most of us, perception is reality. But there is mounting evidence that the perceptions of most Americans aren’t even close to reality. Two months ago, I talked on my radio program about a survey done by YouGov, an international research, data, and analytics group.
I didn’t do a commentary on it at the time because there were so many other topics in the news. But now that the graph is showing up on social media sites, it’s worth mentioning. The survey found that Americans tend to overestimate percentages.
Put another way, most Americans lack even a little bit of common sense. For example, the average American guessed that 30 percent of the American population lives in New York City, 30 percent in Texas, and 32 percent in California. Apparently, those surveyed believe that a total of 92 percent of the American population lives in one city and two states. They also found that Americans assumed that 30 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian and another 21 percent are transgender. That would be more than half the population.
When it came to estimating the percentage of minorities in this country, they didn’t do any better. They estimated that 41 percent are black, 39 percent are Hispanic, and 29 percent are Asian. You could also add the 27 percent they guessed were Muslim.
In the past, when I wanted to illustrate the influence of the media on perceptions, I used to say that if all someone knew about America was what was on TV, that person would think that there were lots of homosexuals, few Christians, and lots of violence in the streets.
Unfortunately, the average American’s perception of the world through media is also skewed. This is the view of reality held by many voters. Let me add one more. This skewed view of reality also seems to be held by many of the politicians we elect.