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The MTSU poll
is getting a lot of attention in the state press because of what it says about views of Tennesseans on the H1N1 vaccine. But national political writers have picked up on what it seems to say about the basic level of intelligence of Tennessee's adult residents.
The poll found that fully a third of Tennessee adults (47 percent of Republicans) think it's probably or definitely the case that Barack Obama was born in another country; almost a third of adults (48 percent of Republicans) believe Obama is probably or definitely a Muslim; and 46 percent of adults (71 percent of Republicans) think Obama is probably or definitely a socialist.
's Mark Ambinder writes
that this "snapshot of Tennessee" shows "how mere evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs." Citing Cass Sunstein's new book on how rumors spread
, Ambinder surmises that "social cascades" are involved--the communication of beliefs among like-minded people. On an upbeat note, in trying to make sense of how the residents of a state can be so willfully blind to plain facts, Ambinder does refer to Tennessee as "a major American state."
Meanwhile, over at Salon.com
, Alex Koppelman thinks
it's "time for Tennesseans to lay off the Jack Daniel's":
Even in the wide, wonderful world of politics, there are sometimes poll results that can be pretty depressing. Then there are the polls that make you just want to shut down the computer, crawl back into bed, pull the covers up and go to sleep for, oh, 70 years or so. A new survey conducted by Middle Tennessee State University falls squarely within the latter category.
You just can't buy publicity like that. Now everyone is going to want to move here.