Then, Silvio Berlusconi started the country’s first private national network. And aired trashy shows like… this one.
Some regions got access to this channel later than others. Even within these regions, some villages got access later due to random geographical variations.
For one, they were more stupid:
• They did worse at literacy and numeracy tests.
• They were more likely to be exempt from the army because of low IQ.
Amazingly, this effect lasted through the 1990s and 2000s.
Among older Italians, loyal viewers of @mediaset were more likely to be exposed to pro-Berlusconi propaganda.
Among younger Italians, TV lowered cognitive standards, making voters more receptive to populist messaging.
Grillo and Berlusconi have little in common.
Ideologically, Grillo has his roots on the left, Berlusconi on the right. Politically, Grillo rose to prominence by attacking Berlusconi.
The populist political style they share—claiming that they alone can defend the people against a corrupt elite—makes them attractive to a similar set of voters.
I’m torn. The study's methodology is very impressive.
But the more counterintuitive a finding, the stronger the evidence we should require before we buying it...
...especially when the finding fits elite ideological priors quite so neatly.
It’s possible this will happen in here, too.
In the meanwhile, do give it a read. Whether or not this study by Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti and Andrea Tesei ends up being right, it's hugely impressive.