I’m sorry about my delay in writing this blog post – obviously I usually write a blog post every Friday, but I completely forgot (I did actually remember at about 3 a.m. but since I was in bed, I decided to leave it) and I think the reason I forgot is because I was so shocked at the result of the EU Referendum. I guess in a way, I kind of expected it to happen, but I was still very shocked to see it become a reality and even now I am still hoping that something can be done to reverse the decision. Perhaps I am in denial?
Now, personally, I think that leaving the EU is a very bad thing indeed, but on a slightly different subject, I am worried by how easily people can be swayed towards specific points of view (and votes) through lies and misrepresentation of facts – the perpetrators of such lies are then not held to any accountability. It’s frightening to consider the kinds of things which people could be persuaded of in future. A lot of it hinges, I think, on the fact that a large portion of the population don’t really apply critical thinking to the information they consume (which I have written about before.)
A big part of the debate has been that the EU is an undemocratic institution (which is already a dubious claim) and I began to wonder whether you can ever have democracy when the electorate don’t have all the facts and don’t fully understand what they’re voting for. I think the answer is no. I began to wonder how something like this could be combated in a world where our media and politicians share misinformation so consistently and I came up with a rough idea.
Perhaps there could be a simple “true or false” questions that somebody needs to answer before voting in something. Obviously, these would all have to be objective facts and not skewed in any way. If somebody was completely uninformed and couldn’t answer them, would they really be in a position to vote? I mean, people don’t make decisions in their personal life if they don’t know the facts. Why should it be any different for politics? Knowing that they would have to answer a mini test before voting might encourage people to research more thoroughly before voting – if a large percentage of people failed these tests, the voting turnout may be low once but it might prompt a public outcry for reliable news sources.
Obviously, there are issues with this approach: they’d need to ensure that people who are less able in different ways were given adequate facilities to provide their answers and that every eligible voter could easily and conveniently complete this quiz. I feel bad to suggest it, almost as if it’s somehow elitist, but it feels like this would be an important safety procedure to ensure that people do not vote for things because they have been manipulated to do so. I hope one day, we’ll see an end to lying politicians and unreliable newspapers.
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