Monday, December 05, 2011

Is the Answer to this Question Yes? Some say no.

A recent CNN-Time Magazine poll has revealed that a slim majority of Americans (51%) believe that the answer to this question is Yes, down from 60% only 5 years ago.   Fully 47% of those surveyed believed that the answer to the question was No, with the remainder answering "Jar of Walnuts".  By comparison, nearly 90% of Europeans, when asked the same question, responded with "Yes", a position that has been steadily growing over the last 10 years.

The debate between Yes and No has spilled out into classrooms, legislatures, and sports arenas, fueled by increasing fanaticism from the No supporters.

Defenders of the Yes position say that there is ample evidence on their side, and that those who are advocating No are few and far between.

"Look, despite the massive amounts of scientific evidence, case law, and religious dogma in our favour, there is still a small vocal minority out there that cling to this contrarian position," says Professor Peter Ian Staker of the University of Sandford in Gloucestershire, UK.  "They do not offer a a sound intellectual or moral argument for 'No', but they feel that in their heart-of-hearts they must be right.  One can only assume, therefore, that they are massively ignorant or are being actively mislead by others."

Indeed, a review of all 5,000 peer reviewed scientific articles on the Yes versus No question, only three defended the No position and even then merely tangentially.  However, in a review of major popular media outlets during the same period, nearly half of the reports were either proponents of No or espoused a neutral value to either positions.

"There is no neutrality here," says Professor Staker, "There is a clearly defined, unambiguous, settled argument here with the exception of people that are pants-on-head crazy, ignorant, or crazy-ignorant."

Despite this sentiment, the Anti-Yes contingent continues to generate millions of dollars per year in grant funding from highly placed philanthropists and industry trade groups, such as George Squaash Faices (heir to the Squaash fortune) and the Americans Against Anti-Negativity (a front for the National No Foundation, which is funded by No, Inc., No, Never & Not At All LLP, and Not on Your Life Sonny-Boy Enterprises, amongst others).  These individuals and organizations have used friendly media outlets, internet message boards, researchers, and apathy towards the debate to convince the general public that the No Position is seriously being debated outside of their echo chamber.  In turn, this backlash at Yes has enabled many Pro-No supporters to be elected to the highest levels of state & local government.

Joseph Duddley, a plumber's assistant and author of the blog "Say Yes to No," says that Americans are sick and tired of being told that Yes is the answer.

"My grandfather didn't come to this country to be told by some pointed headed academic that the answer is Yes.  He was his own man and he raised my family to believe in the values of hard work, apple pie, and No.  There's all this evidence that No is the answer, but they just refuse to listen."

Professor Staker disagrees.

"False equivalency in the media between the Yes and No positions is a major source of confusion for the public.  People assume that the media is an unbiased observer, reporting facts, but the truth is that in the rush to objectivity the media does a disservice by portraying balance when there clearly is none."

While both sides have their points, at the moment the question seems to be remaining unsettled for now.

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