CNN is currently doing a Quick Vote from their homepage asking "Do you Agree with the Judge's Ruling in the Sean Bell Verdict?" Many people are upset with the verdict and over 207,000 at the time of this post have voted. This reminds me of something that is a curiosity to me: Why do uninformed third parties form strong opinions on topics of fact, especially in court cases? I understand passions on issues where there is no clear right or wrong, but what about matters of true or false?
Remember the Michael Jackson fury where hundreds of people lined up on both sides of the fence and protested! Time is costly, they had to have something else to do. Why did they feel like they had to be there? Either he did molest that kid or he did not, and only the parties involved know for certain. We have a jury system set up for independent third parties to carefully examine at all the evidence, so why are others so compelled to take such strong positions? Did you enjoy "Thriller" so much that you just have to believe he couldn't be evil/good?
I would like to see a paper written where sociologists investigate this more closely and learn about who the protesters are. What occupations do they have? How old are they? Why do they say they feel so strongly on the topic? Do they have connections to the involved parties? What should we infer about the size and frevor of the crowd on each side? Should we infer anything at all? Does it have any impact on the judge or jury? Does it have any impact on public opinion?