••• Let’s Talk Confirmation Bias and Critical Thinking•••
Confirmation Bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.
Critical Thinking: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.
Reading about the downturn in the Trump presidency has been one of the most satisfying activities I’ve been absorbed in over these last few whacky days. Since going wildly off-script and riffing about possibly using chemical-disinfectants and UV to save us all from CV19 the headlines have been like glacial-water dowsing the reality-tracker that is my overheated frontal lobe. Unbelief has been a constant daily-rider and some time apart would be nice. Honestly I forgot what normal feels like. My last taste was just over three years ago. And considering the possibility of returning to normalcy yields some strong, positive emotions for me. To think that maybe within the year we can have back a way of life that though it might have seemed a bit bleak while living through it, sure didn’t appear to be as utterly hopeless as things feel now.
I know Trump is a mush-minded-psycho and why everyone doesn’t know that too has been a mystery for sure. But for a few minutes each day I have reveled in the syrupy satisfaction of confirmation bias. I joy in reading writings that I swear I’d would have created if I worked at the Atlantic or NYTimes and happened to be a way better writer with more follow-through. Some of the articles I encounter everyday articulate my feelings better than I have been able to do for myself; to me that’s a sign of great writing. I mean, maybe it’s all a short-coming but I do consider myself a slow thinker. Most of my good ideas often take a lot of time to percolate and usually pop unexpectedly out of nowhere.
With the presses burping out a trillion words a day processing an even atomized fraction of it, with any degree of completeness, is not always in the cards. Either way it does feel great to read a lot of what’s hitting the floors lately. Sometimes it’s like reading a much more concise, less-confused version of my very own thoughts. Often after finishing a deep reaching piece there’s a glimmer of the sense of accomplishment; as if I had actually done something to deserve this glow of satisfaction.
It’s a strange sensation to rub up against… and yes, I know I’m engaging in something dangerous. But how is this any different than all the folks mainlining The-Fox-Propaganda-Network directly into that small spot behind their eyes?
“… IT’S THEM TO BLAME!!!… NOT YOUR FAULT!!!… WE ARE RIGHT!!!… YOU KNEW IT ALL ALONG!!!…MUSLIM OBAMA!!!…. GUNS!!!… ELITISTS DID IT!!!”
….It isn’t different.
But also it kind of is, especially in one slight but important way: I’m trying to stay fully aware of what kind of box I’m sitting in. But before all that…
Let me try to narrow down the crux of a larger problem as I see it… On far-right conservative radio/cable shows the audiences deepest feelings and intuitions get summed up for them with maddening effectiveness. The folks in charge know how find and manipulate the pliable mind. For one thing the language is delivered at a level far below that of even the worst college students and then is reinforced day after day with blunt, usually divisive and simplistic phrases, repeated with almost comical emotional overreactions. Again, I’m simplifying here but eventually this process can’t help but to galvanize the loyal listener to a common narrative that will soon to be mistaken as independent thoughts that they must’a thunk up themselves. Of course they’ll need to defend these hard-adsorbed ideologies to the death whether they are technically right or wrong. Disentangling the ideas from the self eventually becomes impossible as the beliefs become the person. Lopping off a huge part of yourself fucking hurts; it’s certainly grounds for resistance especially in those not super accustomed to changing things up. It’s another manifestation of the Come and Take it theme…. dig? We live in a fly-trap jungle and roughly 40-55% of Americans are hopelessly but happily stuck within.
Most of the time I try to stay fully on-guard against these alluring tricks by using an invaluable tool called Critical Thinking. That’s the main difference here overall, as I have seen it play out in both the news and my own life, anyways.
Scrutinizing the daily information stream can, and should, be exhausting. Literately anyone, anywhere can say anything they want and can often do so in front of a huge impressible audience. Thinking hard, as a skill, couldn’t be more necessary or undervalued right now. Put your ear to the chatter; it’s pure chaos.
Opening the flood gates to too much bad info can rot your soul but the flip-side is how GREAT it feels to hear stuff you already believe come true? Especially when it’s at odds with the consensus. Therein lies the temptation of course. A rhythmic ping of victory to your deepest and most insecure intuitions can cause a resounding *BING* “YOU WIN! AND ARE ABSOLVED OF EVERYTHING FOR THE TIME BEING! CONGRATULATIONS. YOU SEXY WINNER YOU!”. This is nothing short of a serotonin drip, thumb-punch-controller firmly in your grasp with no oversight.
We live in a strange time where logic and reason and even our sense of time; has been wrung-out and pulped into puddles of jelly. And it feels nothing short of miraculous that current events seem to finally be be grinding the right set of gears again. Tooth by rusty tooth we’re slowly snapping back into the worn-out track; the ride doggedly racking us all back into alignment with the natural laws of the known universe. Is that the dark cloud of cognitive dissonance finally catching some wind to somewhere else?
To double back for a minute here… The ability, or will-power rather, to employ Critical Thinking to all cognitive-processing is hard (I would argue it’s a skill that needs to be first learned and then practiced) and this doesn’t happen to be one of the many things that the right-side of the political isle is historically well-known for. Introspection and self-criticism exists within a degree within the progressive* camp and probably to a fault. This is the party of self-cannibalization after all.
*Not to be confused with the Regressive Left
The fact is it’s always been the left where real civic change is often welcomed and fought for instead of resisted. (e.g.- Civil Rights, Woman’s Suffrage, Gay Rights, etc…). But before you chalk this mornings ramblings up to my own snowflakery and political bias, which, yes, there definitely is some of the later at least; please know that I think the leader of the left are a dilapidated, misdirected and spineless bunch. They have more soul-searching and map-reading to do than they may be equipped to handle. A tear-down and rebuild should be the only game they’re playing but I’m afraid that approach won’t bode well with keeping the coasting and lifeless lifers employed. So instead they prop up a vanilla flavored mumbler next to Trump that no one at all is excited about. Why do this? Because instead of finding someone to work for We The People they decided, again, to find someone who won’t upset the game-board. More on that later I suppose.
The only thing I see in the Democrats favor, beside Trump finally becoming so un-ignorably atrocious that even hard-core righty’s want him gone, is having more humility when it comes to asking for help and deferring to experts. Though their record over the last few years ain’t so hot the left has always had a healthier penchant for admitting fault than their stogy counterparts. It’s all a symptom of the mindset no doubt which it’s also argued is a symptom of genetics. Either way, if a quick lobotomy could provide our leadership with even a dash of these simple virtues I’d be the first to run on Washington with shish-kabob skewers, charging straight for the bulls-eye.
But still, here we are. And instead of backing up and letting the experts rightfully run the show the grand-‘wizard’ himself keeps strapping us into the Clock-Work Orange chair and ticker-taping our eyes open so we don’t miss a moment of his terrifying but somehow humorous clown-show every damn evening. All the while tomorrow’s uncertainty about anything is the only wall we have to lean on.
Speaking of politicians getting the fuck out of the way and letting the smart kids take the reins…
Great job New Zealand and Australia.
Thoughtful and well written. Peter Wehner. One of the few conservatives not afraid to break rank and tell it like it is.
Trumps Disinfectant Remark Raises a Question About the ‘Very Stable Genius’ ||| NYTimes
I’m not the only one with internal five-alarm bells constantly clanging for the last three years. How McPOTUS has fooled ANYONE for so long I’ll maybe never know. It’s just nice to see that the media are catching on. Or maybe it’s more that his latest round of UV and disinfectant gaffs just makes it okay for the them to finally put the truth a bit more bluntly… I mean… I remember him saying something to the effect of “I’m great with words. I’m one of the very, very best with words.” yeaaahhh…
>>>The New York Times