Most Americans would pick common sense over knowledge

October 22, 2014, 10:06 AM GMT+0

Americans choose common sense over knowledge and want the same from their politicians – but not their doctors

The amount of attention paid to Ben Carson, a highly talented and successful neurosurgeon turned conservative writer, has been climbing steadily in recent months. The political action committee (PAC) pushing his candidacy, the 'National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee', has actually managed to out-fundraise Hillary Clinton's group, 'Ready for Hillary' by $10.6 million to $10.2 million since January 2013. Carson is a frequent target of liberal critics for his comments and policies, and reactions to his latest book One Nation have been highly partisan.

YouGov decided to test one of Carson's more famous statements from his latest book and see what the American public think. Asked whether they agree with him when he said "I would choose common sense over knowledge in almost every circumstance", 57% of Americans said that they agree and only 27% say that they disagree.

Support for the sentiment is lowest among under-30s (43%), who are the only group, along with people whose household incomes exceed $80,000 a year (also 43%), to not have a majority prefer common sense over knowledge. Support for Ben Carson's statement is highest among Republicans (68%) and middle aged Americans aged 45 to 64 (66%).

Before he became politically active, Ben Carson was primarily known for being one of the nation's top doctors.

When Americans are asked to apply his maxim of common sense over knowledge in their lives, it seems that they would be perfectly happy for someone with his attitude to be their representative in government but not their doctor.

Most Americans (55%) say that they would rather be represented by a politician with more common sense than knowledge, while 27% opt for knowledge. Medical professionals, however are a different matter. Only 22% say that they want their doctor to have more common sense than knowledge, while 61% want their doctor to be more knowledgeable than commonsensical.

Full poll results can be found here.