Thursday, October 13, 2016


Scrolling down facebook, I marvel with irritation at the pro-Trumpers who post astounding conspiracy theories. Why does this bother me? They are entitled to their opinion, of course.

It bothers me, not just because it's stupid, imho, but because it reeks of cult-like "inside information" that only the privileged elite are privy to. They, the select few, really know what's going on in the world. They are the special few who have access to this information that the rest of the world is in the dark about.

It's sickeningly familiar.

It's not just pro-Trump people, either.

Today we have polarization like I've never seen before (not having lived through WWII), fueled and fanned by people's confirmation biases. Any and all news feeds the flame of enthusiasm for the candidate of choice, no matter whether it's bad or good. Just like loyal cultists, the bad news is rationalized and explained away - perhaps as part of that "anti-my-candidate" conspiracy, inspiring a defensive reaction that strengthens loyalty - and the good news simply bolsters their devotion.

Our natural tendency as humans is to feed on information that confirms and reinforces our beliefs. It's mentally rewarding to find confirming evidence, and it easily turns into a continuous cycle that grows more and more, nourished by hyperbole and baseless claims.

How nice it would be if there were actually unbiased reporting of facts and critical thinking utilized by us all. But since that is a dream, at least being aware of this phenomenon and our own biases can help us to see through the noise.

No comments:

Post a Comment