Aardvark’s New Home Page, or, The Limits of Human Reason


As we learn from Elizabeth Kolbert, Steve Bannon is conducting a big experiment in social psychology in an effort to falsify Lincoln’s hypothesis.

The reference to Kolbert’s article, Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds, comes from the estimable Hans Jungfreud (who assures me he is neither a Freudian nor a Jungian). Hans calls it this morning’s lesson in social psychology.

It’s a fine article. Please go read it right now. Hint: the answer to the question posed by the title is said to be found in evolution.

Kolbert concludes,

“The Enigma of Reason,” “The Knowledge Illusion,” and “Denying to the Grave” were all written before the November election. And yet they anticipate Kellyanne Conway and the rise of “alternative facts.” These days, it can feel as if the entire country has been given over to a vast psychological experiment being run either by no one or by Steve Bannon. Rational agents would be able to think their way to a solution. But, on this matter, the literature is not reassuring.

That may well be the case, but, personally, I will take Lincoln’s quote, above, over the literature.

Hans may well see this, and much else I have written, as evidence of confirmation bias and/or any of a variety of other mental defects.

But you, gentle reader, protest: the headline speaks of Aardvark’s new home page. When will we get to the new home page, you wonder.

Right now.

I have revised the home page to collect, and link to, a number of voices that address the question: what can progressives do, and what should they be doing, in the age of Trump?

A fair number of these materials give advice on how to interact with rabid Trump supporters. Generally, they do not claim that facts and logic are likely to be effective tools, at least in the immediate present.

We have to wait a little while, and wait for the facts on the ground to become clear. If, for example, you are a coal miner who voted for Trump because your fondest desire is for the resurgence of the coal industry, there will come a time when the coal industry remains in stagnation, long into Trump’s presidency. At some point you will have two simultaneous epiphanies: one, that the coal industry really is not coming back, and two, that the emperor is in fact naked.