JVL Gives Focus Group Participants the Dr. House Treatment
Everybody lies. But when voters start lying to themselves, nothing good can happen.
1. Unreliable Narrators
I had a twin thesis going into the show. The first part is something I stole from Hugh Laurie’s version of Sherlock Holmes: Everybody lies.1
I want to make it clear that it is important to listen to these lies in order to understand what is happening. That’s just one of the reasons The Focus Group is such a valuable show.
And I also want to make it clear that when I say that people lie, I’m not talking about them being factually incorrect concerning subjects they don’t understand.2 What I mean is that people tell untrue stories about themselves.
For instance, there was one focus group member who claimed that he works in a juvenile correction facility and has seen multiple murderers released after six to eight months.
There was another member who claimed that inflation was so bad that replacing spark plugs on his car was going to cost $900.
For the show, I did some digging and explained why it was unlikely that either of these claims were true.3
Here’s another example, that I didn’t pin down during the show: There was a woman in one of the focus groups who said, “Everyone I know is always unemployed.”
I do not know this woman or the employment status of her social circle, but this claim, too, seems unlikely to be true. The unemployment rate has been under 4 percent since February 2022.4
It does not seem possible that everyone this woman knows has been unemployed during the entirety of this period.
So that’s the first half of my thesis: Everybody lies. The second half is that there’s a reason why people lie in this manner.