- - Thursday, July 21, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It was inevitable that when the Digital Revolution spawned the internet, the Information Revolution would be followed by the Misinformation Revolution.

When anyone, anywhere, anytime — except in China and a few other dark places — can go on the internet to pontificate, much to be found there will be worse than nonsense, and a lot of that is poisonous. The blowhard at the end of the bar, as a wise man observed, now has a laptop or a smartphone, and probably both. The only defense of sanity is a resort to history, which has gone out of style, and common sense, which is sorely threatened.

The pretty faces of press and tube are fascinated with their case against Donald Trump. There are no reporters left; they’re all pundits, obsessed with the minority vote, and all have concluded Mr. Trump has no chance to get it. Maybe. But with the unique exceptions of 2008 and 2012, and the first black candidate at the top of the ticket, the minority vote has never been the deciding factor in a national election, and usually not even a crucial one. Blacks register but often do not vote. Neither, in determinative numbers, do Mexican-Americans.

There are several kinds of Hispanics, and those who trace their ethnicity to Cuba, usually vote Republican. The Bush presidents and Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, cut deeply into the Mexican-American vote.

The polls are all over the place; they always are at this stage of the campaign. Michael Dukakis was running ahead of George H.W. Bush in 1988, John McCain emerged from his convention in Minneapolis a decade later with a lead over Barack Obama. A poll by Suffolk University, usually reliable, was released late Thursday, as Donald Trump prepared to accept the Republican nomination, and it showed the Donald and Hillary Clinton tied in Ohio at 44 points each. Neither the Donald nor Hillary can win without Ohio, and that shows just how close this election is likely to be.

The lesson here is, don’t believe everything the newspaper pundits and television’s panels of talking heads say with such great authority. They’re usually quoting only each other and their facts are usually only someone’s opinion. “Factoids,” novelist Norman Mailer’s playfully invented word for something that is given as fact, sometimes even looks like it might be a fact, but in fact is not a fact, rule. Buyer, beware.

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