Young members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, seen here at a rally in front of the White House on August 6, 2016. were instrumental in turning the #NoDAPL movement into an international phenomenon. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

James Giago Davies: Maybe younger people are really onto something

Younger Americans might understand politics better
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Columnist

We assume age and experience matter most when it comes to making wise decisions, or in understanding how the world actually operates.

Education is supposed to be slipping, young people are supposed to be more shallow and self-absorbed, and the popular conception is that this has made our children less capable of comprehending life than older generations. An article last week by the Atlantic challenges that truism.

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, “Americans over 50 are worse than younger people at telling facts from opinions.”

Ironically, older Americans disputing that, might be disputing it based upon a weaker understanding of the Atlantic article than the young people who read it, if we were to logically apply the finding of the research.

James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

But let’s get to specifics. Given ten statements, five each of fact and opinion, “younger Americans correctly identified both the facts and the opinions at higher rates than older Americans did. Forty-four percent of younger people (17 to 29) identified all five opinions as opinions, while 26 percent of older people (over 50) did.”

It gets worse, only 17 percent of Americans over 65 could identify fact from opinion. This makes them— only half as likely as a young person— to distinguish reality from what they want to be true.

“On the individual questions,” continues the Atlantic article, “the identification gap was particularly large regarding the nature of the American government, and questions about immigration, but there was no statement that younger Americans did not identify with equal or higher accuracy than their elders.”

When it comes to politics, young people have a better comprehension on most topics than older Americans, and never a weaker comprehension. Again, applying cold logic, this country might be better off if older people, such as myself, were not allowed to vote at all.

How did this difference occur? It may be in the flexibility of the mind. An earlier study by the American Press Institute found that, “older Americans were more confident than younger Americans in their ability to identify fact from opinion.”

This confidence is utterly unfounded. Despite the fact the mainstream news agencies are now controlled by only five corporations, older Americans still trust these news sources, and younger Americans, do not.

This trust creates an unjustified conformation of already indoctrinated views from the last century, a blinkered rigidity, an unwillingness to grow and change and learn, that younger Americans are better at identifying and correcting in themselves.


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James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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