The Current Madness

Gun-toting tribe (don't worry, they're no longer 'headhunters')

Today at Vox Brian Resnick tells us about 7 psychological concepts that explain the Trump era of politics. I won’t summarize the article, but the seven concepts are

1) Motivated reasoning: rooting for a team changes your perception of the world

2) People who are the most well-informed about politics are often the most stubborn about it.

3) Evolution has left us with an “immune system” for uncomfortable thoughts.

4) The argument that’s most convincing to you is not convincing to your ideological opponents.

5) Many people seem unashamed of their prejudices.

6) Fear has a powerful influence on political opinion.

7) Social norms that protect against prejudice can change in the blink of an eye.

Four Comments by Aardvark

1.All true. Interesting. Helpful. Explains a lot.

2. But most of these things have been true of human nature for a very long time. Why now the mass derangement that led to the election of Trump?

As a matter of logic, pointing to timeless features of human nature does not explain a material change for the worse in human behavior.

Obviously, I can’t claim to know the full answer. And if I did, I would be as crazy as Trump. And you would rightly see me as someone as crazy as Trump. But consider these points.

3. One thing that has changed in recent memory is the widespread use of the internet and social media, which have turned out to facilitate tribalism and shared delusion.

4. Science advances, and people get better at making and doing things all the time. Computers get better. Digital cameras get better. Even dishwasher detergent gets better.

I have a strong sense that applied social science, likewise, has made big strides in the manipulation of public opinion.

I think that malign manipulation of public opinion really took off—and achieved orbit—back in the 1950’s, when Aardvark as knee high to a grasshopper. When the statistical link between smoking and lung cancer became overwhelmingly obvious, tobacco executives with any ounce of common morality left or were forced out–and the vermin who took their place undertook a massive campaign to repudiate science itself.

The campaign was wildly successful. Get large portions of the public to disbelieve science. Keep on selling them a poisonous product. Extract huge profits from your customer base prior to their inevitably painful early death. Continue to enjoy wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. And if the poor idiots choose to believe your bullshit and drink your Kool-Aid, well, then, they get what they richly deserve for being idiots.

The scam continued with the manufactured climate change bogus “controversy.” It marched on to victory with the election of Trump.