If there’s one thing a democracy needs to get right, it’s an election. And, in that respect, Iowa failed Monday night.
Due to an apparent software problem, the nation did not get the results of the Iowa Democratic caucus Monday night, as planned. Nor did they get the results Tuesday morning. It wasn’t until Tuesday evening that any results were released — and even then only 60% of the votes had been tallied and a winner had not yet emerged.
There is, of course, another way to look at this week’s events in Iowa. And that has to do with a nation incapable of exercising even the slightest bit of patience when it comes to managing its elections.
The mishap in Iowa precipitated a vicious rumor mill. It prompted some right-wingers to cry foul — speculating, baselessly, that the Democratic Party may have tampered with the results. President Trump offered his point of view, tweeting, “When will the Democrats start blaming RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, instead of their own incompetence for the voting disaster that just happened in the Great State of Iowa?”
And, once the rumor mill starts turning, it’s almost impossible to shut down. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science underscores the perils of rumor-spreading in the age of social media. In this study, psychologists asked a group of people to evaluate a series of news headlines that they were told were fake. Participants were then asked how likely they would be to share these news stories on social media. The catch was this: some of the headlines were new while others were headlines they had seen earlier in the experiment. The researchers found that participants rated the previously seen headlines as more ethical, and more sharable, than the new headlines. In other words, prior exposure to information acted to legitimize its contents, even when the contents were known to be untrue.
Read the whole story: Forbes