The Conversation

A person with cropped blond hair, wearing a grey t-shirt, stands with their arms crossed over their stomach, looking seriously. Democracy.

Americans think they know a lot about politics – and it’s bad for democracy that they’re so often wrong in their confidence

“In recent research, I studied how Americans’ perceptions of their own political knowledge shape their political attitudes,” says Ian Anson, associate professor of political science. “My results show that many Americans think they know much more about politics than they really do. Political overconfidence causes Americans to underestimate the political skill of their peers. And those who believe themselves to be political experts often dismiss the guidance of real experts.” Continue Reading Americans think they know a lot about politics – and it’s bad for democracy that they’re so often wrong in their confidence

Political crowdfunding does more than raise money – it can also rile up opponents

The success of politicians in the U.S. largely depends on the amount of funding they receive from various sources. Traditionally, volunteers went door to door to solicit donations from individuals. Today, politicians use social media to encourage their supporters to donate and eventually vote for them. Many politicians have turned to this sort of political crowdfunding. Continue Reading Political crowdfunding does more than raise money – it can also rile up opponents

Crowds gather at Kaab "the house of God" a large rectangular building with white, brown, and black layers of stone. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for Hajj,

From caravans to markets, the hajj pilgrimage has always included a commercial component

This year, an estimated 1 million people will perform the hajj, which is considered one of the five pillars in Islam. Chaos ensued in early June 2022 when Saudi Arabia announced a hajj “lottery” for Western pilgrims that made it mandatory for people from Europe, the Americas and Australia to apply for visas through a random draw through the Saudi government-backed website. Under the lottery, only 50,000 permits were allowed from these 50 countries, compared with 25,000 for U.K. Muslims alone in previous years. Continue Reading From caravans to markets, the hajj pilgrimage has always included a commercial component

A pregnant woman looks down at her belly. anti-abortion

Anti-abortion pregnancy centers will likely outlast the age of Roe – here’s how they’re funded and the services they provide

The anti-abortion movement is often criticized as caring little about these matters. UMBC’s Laura Antkowiak, political science, who has studied the intersections of abortion and social welfare issues, I became intrigued by a large but little-known subset of anti-abortion activists who claimed to support women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Continue Reading Anti-abortion pregnancy centers will likely outlast the age of Roe – here’s how they’re funded and the services they provide

Only about 1 in 5 engineering degrees go to women

Despite various efforts to encourage more women to study STEM fields in college, the percentage of engineering bachelor’s degrees earned by women in the United States hasn’t increased much in the 21st century. Specifically, it has risen from 18% in 1998 to 22% in 2018, writes Danyelle Ireland, associate director of the Center for Women in Technology at UMBC. Continue Reading Only about 1 in 5 engineering degrees go to women

Two people dresses in suits shake hands.

Trump-endorsed candidates would generally win even without his support – and that’s usually the case with all political endorsements

“As a political scientist who studies voting and public opinion, I have my doubts about the true power of Trump’s endorsements,” says Ian Anson, assistant professor of political science at UMBC. “Instead, it is more likely that most of the candidates Trump has chosen to endorse were already on track to win their respective races.” Continue Reading Trump-endorsed candidates would generally win even without his support – and that’s usually the case with all political endorsements

Biden on Taiwan: Did he really commit US forces to stopping any invasion by China? An expert explains why, on balance, probably not

The White House has been left scrambling a little after President Joe Biden suggested on May 23, 2022, that the U.S. would intervene militarily should China attempt an invasion of Taiwan. Meredith Oyen, history and Asian studies, helps explain the background to Biden’s comments and untangles what should be read into his remarks – and what shouldn’t. Continue Reading Biden on Taiwan: Did he really commit US forces to stopping any invasion by China? An expert explains why, on balance, probably not

dancers

The Martinican bèlè dance – a celebration of land, spirit and liberation

Camee Maddox-Wingfield, sociology, anthropology, and public health, first encountered bèlè as a graduate student in anthropology, conducting fieldwork in Martinique. As a former dancer, Maddox-Wingfield was drawn to how bèlè drummers, dancers, and singers experience spiritual and cultural freedom. Continue Reading The Martinican bèlè dance – a celebration of land, spirit and liberation

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