by Tyler Cowen
on January 24, 2017 at 1:55 pm
in Education, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Science
The tweet subtitle they gave my latest Bloomberg column:
Reading articles from other perspectives isn’t enough. Try writing one.
My final tag line:
We all need to worry about our own growing grumpiness.
I like the “the ideological Turing test” idea – I think we could turn that into an awesome game of Balderdash!
“Another option is to get out and meet people who disagree with you. It’s much harder to dislike people face-to-face than over the internet. You could insert yourself into an environment where you are a minority, and thus will feel an instinctive need to ingratiate yourself with others. So if you’re a conservative, spend some time with academics in the humanities. If you’re a progressive, visit a right-leaning church group. We’ve all heard stories, or maybe experienced them directly, of Hillary Clinton voters who didn’t know a single supporter of Donald Trump for president.”
Here’s an example of outreach by a non-Trump supporter:
He’s a gravity denier.
Leah Libresco did this with Christians vs. atheists. Catholics made the most convincing atheists.
The best way is to not agree with anyone, even yourself. We need more contrarian nihilists in the chattering classes.
TV and I can mutually assure that the other does not live in a bubble.
Maybe having partisan penpals would help!
Sure until you decide to visit them, they shank you, steal your ID, and cast a vote for their party in your name.
Peter Thiel agrees…
…Or does he?
“I am large, I contain multitudes.”
We all need to worry about our own growing trumpiness.
Why would I not agree with myself when nothing is true?
I can’t be sure it was “myself” who had that view. Or perhaps “myself” has all views. Is the entire comments section on this blog just the product of my deranged mind, masquerading as a variety of posters? How did I become so interested in Brazilian nationalism and GMU?
I don’t know that we need more nihilists but contrarians are great.
Tyler’s idea of being able to argue against yourself is an excellent one. I wish they’d have debates like that, once in a while! And I agree on the grumpiness part too. Sometimes it’s nice to just be happy that other people are happy!
Not more nihilists, just move them into the chattering classes.
I argue against myself constantly. Hard to say whether that is cause, effect, or correlation, but there is at least a risk that I am the endpoint for the committed self-arguer.
“An ideological Turing test is whether you could write out the views of a Trump or Clinton supporter…contrary to your own… indistinguishable from the writings of supporters.”
There’s little to be learned from contemplating mainstream political views (Republican/Democrat)— the MSM already floods us with those pedestrian outlooks, which are quite similar at their core. But not one in a hundred Americans could write out the general views of Marx or Mises … because they completely lack knowledge of alternative viewpoints. Ignorance is not solved by introspection; external input is required.
My rule is similar, I try to always remember that I could be wrong. It’s amazing what you can learn with that approach. But, it’s not a widely held practice.
One way to get out of the filter bubble is to question why it’s so important to get out of the filter bubble. What if all this tolerance and consensus and “living together as one” is the worst possible goal for our society to pursue? What if *greater* polarization is necessary so that it will lead to a more radical splintering down the road–i.e. decentralization, secession, etc.? What if good fences *still* make good neighbors? That seems to always be the “taboo” option in this society, the one that’s never on the table.
Are you being serious or writing outside your perspective?
It is not friends but enemies that taught cities to build high walls – Rihanna
Yeah, “filter bubble” is a bit of a buzzword. Filters are necessary–it’s not like we have the option of reading everything from everyone all the time. Pre-cable TV, Americans didn’t notice the problem because so many of them lived in the same filter bubble of 3 TV channels. But that was never everyone, there were always subcultures, linguistically isolated communities of recent immigrants, etc.
Plus, Fox News viewers don’t get more knowledgeable when exposed to materials outside their filter bubbles, they just double down on the bubble and get angry at the new thing. And why would I want to get more exposure to their bubble, since it’s just nonsense to me?
The ideological Turing test is one of the great nuggets I’ve gleaned from MR, and backs my intuition that 98% of openly opinionated people can be safely ignored.
Re: grumpiness. Have you seen the assaults on free speech in Europe and Canada? The left is not cute and cuddly these days, and like it or not, Trump is the response to that. Somehow on MR, Trump is the problem rather than a symptom or (we shall see) a defense.
If you make rules like that, it just sounds like a self-sealing position, the opposite of what was intended.
Just in another thread we had a repeat of “never believe PolitiFact.”
Obviously if you have that self-sealer in place you will never see the studies they reference.
I just observe that it is easy to consider of an opinionated person: is he arguing against the best case of the opposition? The answer is almost always no. This is its own sort of filter, not left- or right-leaning but instead a filter for information quality. Given that time and attention are finite, I think this a useful filter.
Many people in the U.S. are now very sealed in and protected from knowing about objective reality.
Anon, you are being a disingenious liar. I don’t think I’ve ever read even by the most rabid Trumpers to *never* believe Politifact. The point is that it is NOT nonpartisan and should not be blindly believed. My offer stands. I can produce 5 examples in the last year of them playing fast and loose with facts if you would indulge, temporarily, the notion they are not actually pure and above it all.
I once linked to Politifact on Reddit and a Trumper said it was all garbage because it’s owned by the Tampa Bay Times. Same for the New York Times because of Carlos Slim.
Garbage, sure. CNN is also garbage. I wouldn’t say never believe CNN, but treat them just like you would your neighbor’s nephew’s roommate’s pen-pal’s testimony. It’s worth listening to, and then double-checking. Unless you use believe and trust interchangeably…
Ok, a better analogy would be listening to one side’s divorce lawyer. You’re getting facts, from a professional source even, but you’re still getting one side of the issue. Believe, but know that you aren’t necessarily getting the whole picture.
Someone can be both a symptom of a problem and also an additional problem(s) in themselves.
And attempted defenses against problems sometimes cause additional problems, rather than being the solutions they were intended to be.
I’d love Trump to become a principled defender of free speech, or even an opportunistic defender of free speech. But I honestly haven’t seen anything from him thus far that makes me suspect him of any desire to do so. Is there something in his history that suggests that Trump will lead to more free speech?
The USDA should not talk to the public. That is an odd one. Who feared the USDA?
Free speech isn’t allowing government employees to voice their politics to tge public. They are all Democrats which is why you care about their “free speech rights”, meanwhile people just like you are actively curtailing actual free speech on college campuses by students.
Moderates can see how Trump errs, and thanks to rants like these, what sort defends him.
I love campus free speech, I love public science for all, but you are in a tizzy.
Moderates can also see what Trump does right. The God-Emperor Trump isn’t perfect, of course, but he is not evil incarnate. As utterly disappointed in Obama as I was, he did do some good things – Cuba, Osama bin Laden spring immediately to mind. It would be cute for an opponent of Trump to concede that there are SOME things he’s doing right – maybe Trump did a good job of dressing himself that morning.
Oh my gosh, to borrow a fraught metaphor, Badlands National Park has gone off the Reservation.
I’d say he’s already led to freer speech on the right. That’s what drives the left nuts.
“And through that medium, write occasional material in support of views you don’t agree with. Try to make them sound as persuasive as possible. ———
You don’t have to do this a lot, but make the best case for the opposing point of view at least once a month.”
I have a suggestion. Whenever I don’t have time to read all the comments, i find my self glossing over those whose point of view I feel I know and generally I am reasonably correct ….
About 4 on the left side of the aisle and about 7 on the right side… =the comments could still be interesting , but ideologically very predictable.
So may be once a month , say the 25th , why don’t we comment the way Tyler suggests. It would be interesting to read…..
Most posts and most comments are not ideological.
I propose a simple convention for this idea: When Tyler makes a “guest post” by Tyrone, we should follow this advice. Try to take on a viewpoint you understand but don’t agree with, and argue for it as well as you can.
How does one burst a filter bubble with someone who lies, lies about everything, large and small? My best friend has policy views that differ from mine, but our goals are the same. I respect his policy views because I know his goals are the same as mine, even though he would endeavor to accomplish those goals with very different policies. My best friend doesn’t lie, or at least he doesn’t lie on a regular basis. I would describe him as highly intelligent and emotionally mature and healthy. I suspect, but don’t know, that Cowen wrote this post at Bloomberg before the revelations of Trump’s behavior this past weekend, revelations from Trump’s closest advisors in the White House. Trump is a psychopath, and treating disagreement with Trump as being the product of a filter bubble has the effect of normalizing the psychopath.
I have a hiking buddy who is center left. I know I am still center right in philosophy because I come at things from a right side framework. I know we are both center, because we can agree on a pragmatic course.
Why do I argue with far rights? Because they are wrong and in power (was “close to power” until this week).
I would argue with far lefts but who cares? If there is a drum circle in the forest and no one hears ..
It would not have taken such an unlikely sequence of events for Bernie Sanders’ backside to be warming the seat in the Oval Office right now. If you could somehow rewind the world, re-randomize all the random stuff, and run in forward a few million times, I wonder if we’d see Sanders end up in the White House any less often than Trump.
If we did, I would be arguing that free college for all is both foolish (ROI) and unaffordable. But as you say, this is not that world.
Trump was elected by Putin and Comey, with the endless email scandals, and fake news about what the emails actually said.
If Sanders had won the primary, I guess Russia would have hacked his emails too, and fake news would have been made up about him too– e.g. turning pizza parlor lunches into child molestation rings too.
Also, Trump still would have still had all the support from Hannity at Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge and various other trusted sources of lies, I mean news media. And they would have switched from lies about HRC to lies about Bernie. They also would have painted him as a Communist and tried to scare people that way.
I personally don’t think he had a chance. But everyone has their pet theory about what would have happened if Bernie had won the primary. And those who love Bernie the most all imagine that he would have won.
Right Wing mainstream fake news won the election. And Right Wing mainstream fake news would still have supported the guy with the R behind his name, no matter who the Dem candidate was.
They are part of the political and propaganda establishment– the same establishment that will see to it that Trump doesn’t last more than a year or 2 at most before being impeached, unless he gives the GOP establishment at least 95% of what it wants. Because if he does not, they know that Pence will give them 100% of what they want.
I can see Sanders having a shot at winning the general against Trump, but I see no plausible path for him to the Democratic nomination. The level of support he got in the primaries seems like a high water mark, and he would have needed a huge increase in support over that to overcome the deck attached in the establishment candidate’s favor.
Arguments with people who radically disagree with me as to what objective reality is–not just differing opinions– do not usually get anywhere, in my experience. Does anyone have a different experience than that?
I am sure Tyler is aware of copious research showing that when you argue with someone who firmly believes a falsehood, they double down. They dig in. They become more extreme.
The only problem is that when you don’t argue with them, they may be elected President of the United States
So only argue with them if they are running for president. But don’t expect them that individual to change. We should have pushed the media to do far better than it did.
Media is far more effective than individuals are, at getting people to change– either changing them toward the truth or toward falsehoods. Fox news repeats falsehoods 1000s of times per year, as do Breitbart and Drudge. As a result, over years, Fox became “America’s most trusted news source”, the survey showed. And so the lies that Hannity created about Trump’s wonderfulness, and HRC’s awfulness, were believed for that reason. They had already established trust in their lies, many years before.
I understood Prof. Cowen to be addressing a different point than how to argue with and persuade others. I think he was addressing instead how to educate yourself. Most of what he suggests involves listening to, reading, and even writing viewpoints different than your own rather than espousing your own views. Even the recommendation of meeting those with whom you disagree doesn’t necessarily involve argument (plus, I think the suggestion was that Clinton supporters get out more and meet Trump supporters and vice versa, rather than (fat chance anyway) meeting Clinton or Trump themselves. It doesn’t normalize Trump (Clinton, McMullin, Stein, Johnson) to listen with an open-mind to the next non-psychopathic Trump (Clinton, McMullin, Stein, Johnson) supporter you meet (or the next person who didn’t really “support” any of them but cast a vote anyway).
I don’t mean to suggest (and I don’t understand Prof. Cowen to have been suggesting) that persuasion isn’t also important, but it was not what he was asked and isn’t what he addressed.
Ok, but there are two reasons to argue a position. To convince, but also hopefully to hear the best counters, especially links to what can fairly be called the objective reality.
If I say, for instance, “the death penalty burns more of our taxes than life imprisonment,” then that claim has a factual answer. Someone should bring that, rather than a wall of text.
Relatedly, the dictionary has picked a side.
Objective reality doesn’t hold a high place in U.S. politics currently..
The death penalty cost is a perfect example of a deceiving trope from the left. Obviously, it is cheaper to kill someone then to house them for life. It only becomes more expensive to kill someone when that person has access to highly expensive trials.
This type of dishonesty Is frequent on the left and consists of two parts. First, the statement is only true because of a previously enacted leftist policy. Second, the argument isn’t meaningful to those making it, as they desire the result of the argument without respect to the argument.
Death penalty; more expensive because of extensive appeals, abolition would be preferred regardless of cost.
Buck, did you just choose an alternate reality?
While complaining of course that this reality is a lie?
“the death penalty burns more of our taxes than life imprisonment”
“the death penalty burns more of our taxes than life imprisonment because of extensive legal process afforded to those facing the death penalty that is not given to those imprisoned for life”
The latter statement is more true than the former. The former statement could give the impression that there is something about the actual execution process that makes it more expensive than imprisoning someone for life. The fact that the former statement is preferred by those advocating against the death penalty isn’t happenstance, and isn’t just a preference for keeping words to a minimum. It is a preference for “the truth” but not “the whole truth.”
In other words, “the truth” can be deceptive when it is not “the whole truth,” and it is rare that we can describe and comprehend “the whole truth” about anything.
“If we spent the same to test whether it was fair and accurate to condemn someone to die in prison as we do to test the same for someone condemned to die in the execution chamber, life imprisonment would burn more of our taxes than the death penalty.”
I have given you “truth” and “objective reality” that paints a rather different picture than your “truth” and “objective reality.”
I thought you were smarter than that, TV.
When Buck said ““the death penalty burns more of our taxes than life imprisonment because ..” he acknowledged my truth. Period. End of sentence.
But then for some strange reason he got mad and blamed me for it too.
(I never ventured an opinion on how, with a death penalty, you kill only bad people quickly and efficiently. I don’t know.)
That is, in a quick two-step, Buck agreed with me, and then accused me of dishonesty in the truth he just accepted. That was where he shifted to an alternate reality.
There can be dishonesty in stated truths.
We do not typically have people swear to just tell “the truth.” They swear to tell “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This recognizes that “truth” isn’t an absolute. A truthful statement can imply untruthful things. It can be deceptive by leaving things out.
And what is it about you that you can’t help but start posts with stuff like “I thought you were smarter than that, TV.”?
Because damn it, this is frustrating.
I say a true thing. The right answer from Buck would have been “sure, that is true, here is another true thing.” And then I would have said “sure that is true too, but how do we spend less and only kill the guilty?”
Instead you fucking piled on.
Because I have heard essentially the same statement repeated many times, and the intent was not to speak the truth and the whole truth. It is meant as a short anti-capital-punishment statement, to persuade through misleading implication.
I think Prof. Cowen was suggesting more engagement with the best arguments of a position we don’t agree with, and the best arguments for or against capital punishment surely don’t turn on whether it’s cheaper. (Suppose that we decide to spend more on prisoners by giving them better and more healthful fresh food, more spacious and more pleasant surroundings, better life enrichment experiences, and better guards (who can be hired only with a better pay package) and that the cumulative effect of those expenditures means that the expense of life imprisonment ticks a bit above the expense of capital punishment (assuming the former is now lower, about which I profess ignorance). Why should that change anyone’s view of whether capital punishment is permissible? (Other than, at an extreme, causing someone to view imprisonment as not much of a punishment at all any more, making capital (along with corporal or monetary) punishment a better option at least in relative terms for people for whom it is determined punishment is warranted — but that is not a cost issue per se.))
You can distinguish between the multiple questions, which is a sign that you would be ready for constructive debate.
You can probably also see that I did not, above, make an argument that we should abandon the death penalty. I think we should, for moral reasons (killing innocents) but that is indeed a different question.
I think this was a wonderful illustration that many do not want to settle matters of fact, before discussing broader policy.
This explains Tyrone.
Or perhaps Tyler’s escape route for his earlier Trump hysterics.
Oops, opinionated ad hominem sighted.
Haha. To the contrary it’s directed at the content, but I’ll perhaps cede the opinion part.
“Or perhaps Tyler’s escape route for his earlier Trump hysterics.”
I don’t mind Tyler’s anti-Trumpness. But I object when Tyler start’s to slip into obviously rationalized points. It’s unusual for him, though obviously Trump’s antics tend to bring it out.
How much of the modern grumpiness is the aging population with less young people? For all the big protest and Trump rallies, the violence is much more contained than the 1968 protest.
Most of it. It is also amplified by media organisations chasing market share and gradually making each other seem tame by comparison.
None of it. You get less grumpy with age. Science says so.
Did you read the article? The oldest subject was 36.
That just established the effect of brain differences responsible for reduced grumpiness. These differences also occur as a result of aging.
An ideological Turing test seems like it might be useful in a society where people did not think the other political party was the Anti-Christ– where they wanted to understand the other party, rather than to bash them, to prove loyalty to their own tribe, and to bask in their inclusion in the Only Virtuous Political Tribe
In other words, a totally different society than we have in the U.S. now.
Since November 9, I have not had occasion to be “grumpy.”
Pacem, girls. In person, my far left friends actually like me and think I’m reasonable. It’s the web that brings out the worst in us. It’s anonymous and there is no consequence for untoward behavior.
Anyhow, Soros’ millions weren’t enough to drag Hillary across the finish line or sufficient to incite violence.
Plus, there’s little violence compared to 1968 for two reasons. The USSR is kaput/not bankrolling the cold war/revolutionary exploits of guys like Obama BFF Bill Ayres. and, the youth of today are “snowflakes.” They are more apt to cry than to throw a punch.
In January 2017, a half million young Americans marched against fascism. In January 1944, twelve million young Americans fought (and many died) fighting fascism. There are huge differences that are lost on today’s youth.
You make a good argument for non-anonymous commenting.
I need to apologize to everyone that I have offended. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa. And, I regret the fact that many are exceedingly upset by President trump: I apologize for voting for him this past November and I apologize in advance for voting Trump again in 2020.
Some fun facts: all of 15% of those polled are so supine and “Unserious” as to believe the schtuff shoveled by the mainstream media. ‘ Approval of the national news media now stands at 14%, and the allegations the press are now making against the new administration are of no interest to any serious segment of the public” Quoted at Instapundit..
And, Rasmussen tracking poll has 57% Trump favorability ratings.
I tend to think degree of smugness in comments is highly correlated with emotional problems.
To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “It ain’t smugness if it’s true.”
I nightly self-medicate with 1.5 fl. oz. Bushmill’s and 12 fl. oz. Miller Lite. (This is not a paid endorsement).
What exactly is the opposite of a moderate without a ton of confidence in his own views?
Bloomberg is taking a new direction, they now will officially compete with Fox News as to see who will trump the other in fulsome praise of ze Fuhrer (also helps keep defamation liability insurance premiums lower).
Lots of people are competing with Fox News as to see who will trump the other in fulsome praise of DT.
Warren Buffett said this below about the stock market but it also applies here– in the area of principles. Only when ze Fuhrer comes to power do you discover people who have been principle-free all along, who then begin sucking up to ze Fuhrer big time.
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
Is “ze” a new German gender-confusion article?
“die” Do explain, die! Just die! 😉
And der, die, das, und ze to you too.
Has Tyrone given us his Trump take?
Let’s tell Tyler that he can’t cite the NYT, the WaPo, the Guardian, Mother Jones, etc. and see what he can do.
May we cite Lindsey Graham?
(Serously, it is sad that you can’t see how hard your comment fails. Instead of “don’t cite x, y, and z” have an open mind that anyone can tell you a truth. I regularly find truths in right of center media and sources. As above.)
Ah, the argumentem ad grahamensis. A kill shot.
During the Obama regime, they used the “stray voltage” tactic. When the right wing was outraged, they launched a new provocation. Trump has taken this to a whole new level. Who remembers the womyn’s march now? It’s all about the numbers of illegals who voted.
Trump is getting inside his adversaries’ OODA loop. Repeatedly.
Would you prefer that he cite only Fox, Drudge, Breitbart and fake news web sites created in Macedonia then?
“We all need to worry about our own growing grumpiness.”
I believe that will get much much worse before it gets better.
Trump was elected on a platform of attacking various persons and groups in society, diminishing the influence of those groups and “rewarding” his supporters at the expense of others. It seems to have come as a surprise to Trump and his supporters that those they have identified as “enemies” would respond by pushing back. It also seems to have been a surprise that some of his “enemies” have read or instinctively understood Sun Tzu and Liddell Hart – that you should attack your enemy where he is weakest, not where he is strongest; that you should try to pick a field of battle that gives you the advantage. The Republicans attacks are going to become more intense and the push back will correspondingly become stronger and more focused.
Some of the division is over pure self interest. That is inevitable. Except for utilitarians, everyone thinks their self interest should be given the highest priority.
Some of the division is over different understandings of how the world works – what the links are, what policy actions will have what outcomes – that is a matter for the most careful theoretical consideration informed by experience and tempered by caution.
Some of the differences are differences over what the facts are. Objective reality exists. Each of us has a duty, to ourselves, to our neighbors and to society at large, to strive to determine what it is. We may never agree on what facts are important or over riding but we should be able to agree on what the facts are. If we can’t agree on that then we are screwed.
Shorter Jorgensen: impeach Donald Trump!
An excellent idea, although that isn’t what Jorgensen said.
Who is Tyrone?
Who is John Galt ?
If you search for Tyrone on MR, you will find Tyrone’s post, Sort of a counter-point to Tyler , his “on the other hand” twin.
I agree that writing (or otherwise expressing) a different perspective is good practice. I’m of the opinion that if you can’t express someone else’s POV in a way that he agrees was accurate, then you don’t understand it.
Project Humiliation proceeds apace.
Our greatest success for the week was the extremely inexpensive tactic to get Hillary looking like she was mid fast preceeding a proctologist exam. All it took was an off the cuff suggestion that someone should ask her how she felt not being inaugurated president. It didn’t even cost any money, just suggestion.
We floated the suggestion widely that any Democrat talking about Tillerson append Valdez to Exxon, but no one seemed to know what we were talking about.
The crowd thing was a side issue that took off. There is no end of surprises; the hills people choose to die on! A small gift to a couple Parks guys, the traffic was moved around a bit and the numbers fuzzied, plus some low grade additions to Spicer’s coffee had the whole country in a tizzie for almost a week over we aren’t quite sure what. Kudos to the interns, they came up with that one.
The level of humiliation was broad and deep. All in all a great week. We still can’t believe how easy this is.
You know, I am a pessimist, but not that much of a pessimist. I have thought Gary Kasparov was too far out there. But Gary is a very smart guy, with experience of actual totalitarianism.
Maybe we should not just discount his fears.
He had a nice talk with Sam Harris but according to people like you Sam Harris is an islamophobe and a fascist (Slate, Huffpo), and according to people like you (Amy Zimmerman) the lack of protest in the face of political opposition implies belonging to that political opposition, which means that Garry Kasparov is an islamophobe and fascist and so are you. Welcome to the post truth world where the right uses the left’s tactics.
Try again. Under what theory of US law may a President threaten a city government, and even more, override them on local crime?
“He had a nice talk with Sam Harris but according to people like you Sam Harris is an islamophobe and a fascist (Slate, Huffpo),”
I searched Slate and cannot find any article calling Harris either of those things. The only thing I found was http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/10/04/video_ben_affleck_calls_bill_maher_s_views_on_islam_gross_and_racist.html reporting on Harris’s argument with Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s show, but the article doesn’t even seem critical let alone calling him a fascist.
You have an actual source or are you just playing the Trump game again?
I would add another angle, trying to prove your point while only citing sources of the other side. I also try to listen to the other side’s radio which can be hilarious. But things are truly yin and yang, canon law for a side is accepted without explanation even when I’m dying to hear them talk about it.
On another blog I recall having endless debates about the ACA. Over and over the right wing author seemed to get key facts wrong (like using citations about England’s single payer system to ‘refute’ the ACA seemingly blind to the fact that the ACA is structured nothing like a single payer system). Finally we challenged him to demonstrate he even understood the ACA by writing a summary of how it actually worked. He did a reasonably good job with the mechanics, but added a lot of dripping sarcasm almost as if he was trying to prove his ‘loyalty’ to any right wingers who might inform on him.
It was probably, nonetheless, a helpful exercise for the discussion but it was still a largely unfruitful discussion.
c.f. “Radical Empathy”
Listened to a podcast last night that talked about Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. She lived in Berkeley CA and wanted to understand Trump voters. So she decided she had to get out of her bubble. She went to Louisiana and spoke with whites there for five years.
You might have heard the analogy she uses to describe their anger. Imagine a long line that you’re waiting in called The American Dream. You are waiting patiently, with no anger towards those in front and no contempt for those behind you. But up ahead you see some people cutting. You get mad, not right. Then you see more and far off in the distance you see the guy whose in charge of the line. He’ll crack down on those cheaters! Wait the guy in charge is Obama and he’s inviting people to cut in front of you….they are blacks and women and Syrian refugees and illegal immigrants. Bahhhh!
Many of you have heard this. Why have you heard it? Because you are in the liberal bubble reading liberal site, listening to liberal podcasts, NPR etc. She’s been all over the media with her book. Right or wrong the emotional perspective of Trump people is something quite a few liberals care about and try to understand.
But maybe the problem isn’t a bubble but a lack of a bubble. Why should we care what Louisiana thinks? What evidence is there that Louisiana has come up with great ideas worth copying? Long before Obama and Syrian refugees (which are like maybe a few thousand people at most in the US, not even a blip), where was Louisiana? During Bush, during Reagan, Nixon, Ford, even going back to Eisenhower I’ll tell you where it was, at the bottom.
Listen to right wing media all day long. Hear their talk radio, their podcasts, their sites. I’ll tell you what you’ll never hear. Right wing thinker can’t get liberals so she or he goes to live in NY or CA for five years talking to activists, protestors, regular people who have Obama or Hillary bumper stickers on their cars to really get a sense of how they think, what motivates them, etc.
Under all this is an assumption that Trump voters are worth trying to understand. Why? Understanding something takes time and effort. Should I try to ‘understand’ why someone thinks vaccines cause autism or should I use that effort to understand something else more useful and helpful for me. Understanding here seems a bit like affirmative action for Trump supporters. Why are we obligated to understand them? Shouldn’t the burden be on themselves to explain themselves to us and show us how their ideas are valid, useful, and worthy?
And assuming there’s multiple bubbles may be a mistake. She went to a parish in Louisiana where Obama got 16% of the white vote. But Romney didn’t get only 16% of the vote in her ‘bubble CA’. Obama got a bit over half of the white vote in CA. Even though Obama easily took CA it isn’t like CA is some mecca for liberals where one will never encounter a Republican. But her whites live in a bubble where they can choose their reality. And their reality sucks, it isn’t some undiscovered country of great ideas. And if they do stumble upon a great idea in their bubble there’s no need to worry, the case for the idea will get out and be made to everyone else without trying to ‘understand’ them.
For example, multiple times on this blog we’ve had Peter Theil featured as if he is some type of oracle. Yet despite all this space, not once has he bothered to explain his support for Trump to anyone in any coherent, non-contradictory fashion. Here perhaps we see the way intellectual affirmative action victimizes people. You have a very bright guy who made millions and yet he is unable to communicate to intelligent people because we assume his offbeat support of Trump must come from some deeper wisdom that we have to really pay attention too in order to understand. Yet most right wing pundits are sensible enough to know that they don’t have to pour over Michael Moore’s words trying to discern why he just won’t get behind the GOP.
Consider maybe worrying about bubbles is the mistake here and not the problem.
Shorter version: “After careful analysis, I have shockingly concluded that my bubble is the right bubble.”
What bubble? If you went off and lived with Trump supporters for 5 years are you, assuming you’re not a Trump person, living in a bubble?
Have Trump supporters undertaken a 5 year study of your views? How about everything else in the world? Why not study scientologists for five years? Or Jainists? Or China?
Maybe you should consider obsessing over being in a bubble is a type of bubble in itself causing you to doubt what’s right unnecessarily.
Look at it this way. In a bookstore there’s thousands of books. On Netflix there’s thousands of shows. You’re not going to read or watch all of them.
Is it your job to be familiar with all of them? It is admirable that you try to get out of your comfort zone, go to places you’re not used to going. But at the end of the who bears the responsibility? If Obscure FilmMaker never gets anyone on Netflix to watch his 15 part documentary or Obscure Author sits at the bottom of Amazon’s ranking with his 1500 page tome are they victims of a ‘bubble’? Are you obligated to seek them out or perhaps it is the obligation of their work to make the case.
They are, IMO, owed nothing from you. If going outside your comfort zone achieves you some insights that’s great but there’s a balance there. Spend all your days reading conspiracy theories about Lizard People and you might stumble upon some insight that no one else has. But chances are that lottery ticket you’re buying will end up being a loser. Tyler would probably, for example, be better off reading mainstream economics papers instead.
I love all the lefty commenters who just assume the stereotype of Trump supporters is true, ignoring all the evidence that there are literally millions of Trump supporters with education and knowledge equivalent to those in the “opposition/resistance.” Those commenters just assume they have info or IQ others don’t, which obviously must be false. I also love all the lefty commenters who ignore that the “left” isn’t monolithic, and not all of its members support the entire program (go check the numbers on opposition to gay marriage in CA). These same commenters further ignore that there’s almost no way not to have knowledge of the lefty bubble, its positions and concerns, by virtue of lefty dominance of media, academia, entertainment. So many if not most Trump supporters understand lefty positions and perspectives, even if they may not agree with some or all. Reverse obviously isn’t true, as any number of commenters confirm.
” So many if not most Trump supporters understand lefty positions and perspectives, even if they may not agree with some or all. Reverse obviously isn’t true, as any number of commenters confirm.”
Do they? Are you telling us as a fellow Trump supporter or a non-Trump supporter who assumes non-supporters should feel guilty for failing to understand?
If you are a Trump supporter how do you account for a complete disinterest in actually engaging ‘lefty’ positions? The impression I get is great joy on the part in many Trump supporters in being annoying, provocative, or insulting to lefties but absolutely zero interest in explaining, for example, why we should get rid of the ACA and punt on replacing it. Or why we should nod when America is depicted as awash in a sea of carnage when crime remains low?
Now searching for a cartoon frog image for my new alternative twitter profile 😉
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