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Why do you believe what you believe? “It’s not my fault.”
You know millions, billions, even trillions of things. You know humans are causing global warming — or not. You know the sun causes skin cancer. You know you will die before the age of 110. You know God is good — or bad, or doesn’t exist.
You know a butterfly is yellow, because you see it. It looks a certain color, and you have come to know that color as “yellow.”
Except the butterfly isn’t yellow. Rather, gray scales on the butterfly’s wings affect light waves that you interpret as yellow.)
You know Donald . . . or uh, wait, Hillary . . . is the greatest thing since the P&J sandwich.
Why do you know these things?
Why do you know the sun causes skin cancer? You know it because years ago you read it in a trusted source. Then you heard it often again, and the repetition caused you to believe it more and more until you know it.
But how does a source become trusted?
Steve Benen, Rachel Maddow blog: A reality-based observer might note, for example, that the unemployment rate has dropped sharply under President Obama.
And the budget deficit has shrunk. And government spending has leveled off. And murder rates are down.
And border security has tightened as the number of undocumented immigrants entering the United States has declined.
And voter fraud hardly ever happens anywhere in the United States.
Many rank-and-file conservatives will, with great sincerity, insist that each of these claims is wrong.
Independent news organizations, citing official data, will routinely tell the public about important developments surrounding, say, job creation.
But for much of the right, independent media outlets are corrupt and untrustworthy; official figures from the government are extensions of some kind of conspiracy to mislead the public; and they know in their guts that job creation is collapsing, evidence be damned.
Are Steve Benen’s statements true? Are he and Rachel Maddow trusted sources? Why or why not?
Here are the results of a Gallup survey:
The military is trusted far more than Congress and the President, though the military does exactly what Congress and the President authorize.
Religion is more trusted than Newspapers and Television news, though religion deals in unproven, unscientific myths, while Newspapers and TV are where we receive much of our fact-based news.
Banks are trusted more than Organized labor, though it was Banks that primarily were responsible for, and profited from, the “Great Recession,” while labor merely suffered.
Why? What is the source of our trust?
Allan Thiel knows that President Barack Obama is a foreign-born Muslim who cheated his way into the presidency in order to promote a globalist “utopia.”
Thiel waits on the floor of the Greenville, N.C., convention center for Donald Trump to take the stage, holding up his phone so others can see the latest headline he had just read: “Obama Announces Plans for a Third Term Presidential Run.”
He believes that climate change is a hoax, that Islam is being promoted in American schools and that the government has been bought out by drug cartels.
“Our country has never had any problems for the last 200 years,” he says, shaking his head. “We’ve never had a problem with guns or racism until the last eight years.”
No racial problems for 200 years, oh, except for little things like slavery, segregation, lynchings, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Theil is what is known as a True Believer. True Believers idealize the past and glorify the future. The present world is denigrated: “The radical and the reactionary loath the present.”
“Make America great, again” is designed to appeal to True Believers. In Trump’s world, the past was wonderful, and he will make the future wonderful again. It’s just the present that is awful.
Thiel’s beliefs show up in double digits in national polls and belong to a reality shared by many Trump supporters.
Roxanne Noble, explains why she can’t ever vote Clinton: Vince Foster, a onetime White House aide, was murdered to hide the Clintons’ secrets.
Five official investigations–by U.S. Park Police, the Justice Department, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and special prosecutor Kenneth Starr–ruled Foster’s death a suicide. But there are thousands of web pages that describe fanciful Foster murder-plot conspiracies.
More crucially, Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, has spent years regularly encouraging his followers to doubt much of what is known to be true: that the earth is warming, that Obama was born in the U.S.
Back in May, Trump agreed with Noble, declaring that Foster’s death was “very fishy.”“I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder,” Trump said.
This is classic Trump, attributing conspiracies and lies to “many people.” Who are these “many people“? We never are told.
For Trump, casting doubt on what is demonstrably real and lending credence to what is not has become a core appeal of his campaign.
Trump’s central argument is that faith has been lost, and he is the only solution.
When Trump talks about a rigged system, (he is) talking about the institutions that facilitate democracy: Election Day poll workers; the Federal Reserve, which he has accused of favoring Obama; the debate moderators, who he has falsely accused of being Democrats; and the rest of the national press, which he claims function as agents of the established elite.
Reality, he argued under oath in a 2007 deposition, could be up to him. “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”
Though Trump (finally) admits the truth of Obama’s birth, polls have consistently shown that 20% of Americans refuse to accept that Obama was born in the U.S.
It’s a problem of quantity as much as quality: there is simply too much information for the public to accurately metabolize.
Phony conspiracy theories are often mixed in with accurate journalism and history. People look to their social networks for information, and social networks are where conspiracy theories thrive best.
Passed from Facebook to Facebook, retweeted by thousands of anonymous accounts, ideas can spread quickly without verification or context.
People tend to share content that gets the most extreme reactions, which means a terrifying but untrue story will be shared more widely than a mildly alarming but accurate one.
Sitting at a bar in Wilmington, N.C., Gary Wilson explains (how he figures out) what to trust. “If I hear it from several different sources, I tend to believe it. Let me think about that myself, let me see if I can find that one conspiracy even slightly believable.”
The popular New World Order theory passed that litmus test: Wilson believes that global elites are conspiring with the U.N. to create a world government that will act like Big Brother to ordinary people, and that trade pacts are the first step in the process.
(The U.N. is not involved in the enforcement of trade deals, which are signed as agreements between participating nations.)
“I just believe it,” he says. “Where did I find my sources? Alex Jones is a good one.” Jones is the host of a radio show that is an entertaining mixture of outrage and conspiracy theory.
Jones has claimed that the government has poisoned juice boxes to make citizens gay, that the Bush Administration was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks and even that Trump was a secret agent working for Clinton by sinking Republican chances of winning the White House.
“Your reputation is amazing,” Trump said on Jones’ show in December. “I will not let you down.”
Wilson says he began to notice four or five years ago that 9/11 had been an inside job after “a friend of mine turned me on to a couple websites.”
He says that if it comes down to it, he’ll have to vote for Trump. “A lot of what he says is the truth. He doesn’t bullsh-t,” Wilson says.
Repetition is important. The more you hear or read something, the more believable you will find it.
I spent my life in advertising, and I can tell you this: Advertising is based on frequency. Advertising is based on frequency. Advertising is based on frequency.
But there is a far more important factor:
Students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa think science as it is currently understood must be abolished.
“I have a question for all the science people. There is a place in KZN called Umhlab’uyalingana. They believe that through the magic’ you call it black magic’ they call it witchcraft’ you are able to send lightening to strike someone. Can you explain that scientifically because it’s something that happens?”
Many people laughed at this remark because, well, witchcraft is not something that happens. But according to the student, witchcraft is like Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity—it’s just one way of explaining the world, among many.
You may be reminded of the Evolution deniers, who say that Evolution is just one theory among many, and that the biblical version is preferable. They want schools to teach both, just as the Cape Town students want their schools to teach witchcraft.
The “fallist” rejection of science and Trump’s rejection of fact have the same underpinnings.
For many people, the facts of their life are too much to bear. They feel life has been unfair. And most importantly, they believe it is not their fault.
So they will accept anything, no matter how preposterous, that supports their belief that their misfortune is someone else’s fault.
Africa long has been the “poor man” of the world, a place of scientific ignorance and lack of scientific progress — but “it’s not their fault.” It’s the fault of Eurocentric science. Rather than try to lift themselves, they Cape Town students find it easier to blame science.
Unemployment, poverty, loss of status — Trump’s followers believe none of these is their own fault.
Instead, the fault lies with dishonest media, dishonest scientists, job-stealing and criminal immigrants, world trade pacts, lying and murderous Clintons, rigged elections, and an illegal, foreign-born President.
The fundamental “logic” of today’s True Believer is: “Everything ‘they’ tell me is a lie. ‘They’ lie to make my life miserable. I don’t believe anything ‘they’ say, because ‘they’ are the devil.
“So, I will believe anything and trust anyone who claims ‘they’ are evil liars whose sole goal is to push me down, and who tells me it’s not my fault.”
Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, Mao Zedong, Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot — all followed the same script: “Your lives are bad. It’s not your fault. It’s the fault of [scapegoats]. Only I can save you.“
Any time someone tells you, “It’s not your fault;” it’s the fault of [scapegoats], and “Only I can save you,” know this: You are about to be enslaved. And it will be your fault.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.
•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
•Deficit spending grows the supply of money
•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
•The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest.
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.