Confession time: I’m what you might call a Trump agnostic. Some of what he’s done pleases me, some things about him I find frustrating, and almost everything he does I find entertaining. Someone once asked me who I would vote for and I answered at the time that whatever my disagreements with the man, I had no doubts in my mind that Trump loved America and wanted to do right by her – I still believe that and for me it’s not nothing in consideration for a president.
Still I do try to listen to both sides of the Trump issue on the right, and here I will admit that I find both sides – his fans and his haters – frequently obnoxious. Indeed my feelings towards the man himself are too often influenced by who I read last. If a super-fan, Trump is annoying. If a hater, Trump is the GOAT. Thus i try not to rely on my gut or feelings on the matter but ever seek out the truth. Thus listening to both sides.
Because the problem with humans is that our senses alone collect so much data that our brains can’t possibly store and process all of it. So we have to constantly shift through and analyse this data, our brains prioritizing some while ignoring the rest. But what is really important? The color, make and model of nearby cars? The color, style and make of the shoes everyone around you are wearing? Some data is objectively important (like who is shooting at you) but a lot of data out there is… debatable. That’s why we communicate with others – because the data I picked up and retained is going to be a bit different from what you picked up. By combining all our datasets we can craft a larger picture of the whole truth, like a jigsaw puzzle.
This then is the frustration when I listen to a Trump fan (like Andrew Klavan) vs a Trump skeptic (like Jonah Goldberg). Both sides often make relevant points about important data, and both sides seem to avoid what the other one is addressing leading to a frustration of everybody talking past each other. Yet I couldn’t help but notice that the fans seemed to make an effort to confront the counter arguments a bit more often – the skeptics rarely so. In fact the skeptics seemed to go out of their way to even acknowledge competing evidence. Things just weren’t adding up. Now I’m also a big believer in Occum’s Razor which should be summed up as “don’t add additional factors without evidence.” , so I prefer to take the folks at their word rather than inventing some kind of conspiracy theory.
Let’s then think about like in programming. At root we only have 3 factors: the input, the process, and the output. If the output is wrong, there’s only 2 other places to look. What can we tell about process? Fundamentally – nothing. We can’t read minds so there’s no way to really be sure what’s going on inside another’s. We’ll have to accept their claims about their own process at face value for right now. So let’s look at input.
In fact, let’s look at what happened this weekend.
In case you haven’t heard, there was a March for Life on Washington DC at which point a video & image of an original-American drummer and a boy in a MAGA cap went viral. Shortly after the viral spread, the other shoe dropped.
Turned out there was a lot more to the story and everyone was reacting to pretty much the opposite of what was the truth.
Let’s look at the National Review’s article on it.
Oh wait, that’s actually the SECOND article NRO published. There was a first article before that. It’s captured under “Update IV” at this link.
Now it all began to make sense. The trump-skeptic side was having faulty input. They are believing the media.
There’s actually a term for this: Gell-Mann Amnesia. Michael Crichton described it as:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
This somehow seems to make it all worse than a simple betrayal.
See, I’m old enough that for most of my political life, conservatives have been bitching about the media. That whenever an article was written about Reagan or Bush or Bush or whatever politician, so many of these figures would be there with an article pointing out all the facts overlooked and complicating factors ignored. Always and forever if the media reported on a congressman’s tie, the conservatives would double check it. Now? Now when they complain about Trump, you can quickly piece together that it’s because they’re accepting the media’s basic premises.
Never mind that nothing’s changed over those years save the republican targeted. Never mind that a few months ago the press did the exact same thing to Kavanaugh (with many of these figures rightly objected to). No this time a video and image go up about a kid in a red hat, and the people who should know better accept the media’s premises unquestioned. It’s a movement-wide Gell-Mann Amnesia.
If you’re a skeptic reading this: Imagine it’s a few years ago and you came across one of your conservative colleagues or heroes complaining about how misogynist Romney was being with his “binders full of women” line. Imagine that no matter how much you tried to correct that person, get them to see the fuller context, they objected. Said they saw all they needed to. Called you a cultist – a blind Romney follower. I remember how most of you fought against that little media deception back in the day. So imagine how you would feel in that situation.
That’s how we feel now.
You don’t have to like Trump. You don’t have to agree with Trump. You don’t have to excuse the worst excesses of his followers.
But MAYBE you could try reapplying your old skepticism, and stop buying what the media is selling. You above all people should know better. Stop and ask yourself why this time you think the habitual liar is being truthful.
As we say in programming. Garbage in, garbage out. So if leftism in…
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) January 23, 2019
…no self-awareness out.Loading Likes...