Group Think

Americans Disdain for Facts

Americans Disdain for Facts

            Robert A. Levine    July 5, 2023

Is it our school systems? Is it our water? Is it our concept of equality, that every man’s knowledge

and store of information is the same and worthy of attention? Such a large proportion of our citizens refuse to believe experts and look down on scientists. Conspiracy theories and bald-faced lies flourish and the facts languish. And this disdain for what is true and scientifically proven is just as prevalent on the left as it is on the right. Disregard the facts. Don’t believe accepted data in science and medicine, but what Tom so and so says. He has two million followers on Facebook so he must know what he’s talking about. Don’t people think for themselves any more, or do they merely mirror popular trends and influencers who tell that what to think. Even bizarre conspiracy theories like Qanon have millions of people believing.

Initially, the disregard for the truth and the facts seemed to be typical of conservatives and the right, Americans who idolized Donald Trump and his coterie, took their words as gospel, no matter how far out they might seem. Democrats as pedophiles. Cannibalism. Soros’ space lasers causing forest fires. Stolen elections. And Trump’s missteps ignored. Paying off a call girl. Grabbing attractive women by the pussy. Paying homage to Putin. Running his businesses from the White House. And hundreds more noxious actions. So what. He got conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Character doesn’t matter.

But now, some of the left is following in Trump’s footsteps, willing to accept lies as truth, disregarding facts and buying in to conspiracy theories. Robert Kennedy Jr has become the leader of this portion of the Democratic Party, and doing surprising well in the polls for president. At one point he had around 20 percent of voters, though apparently he has fallen back somewhat. But his lies and conspiracy theories and his dislike for standard medicine and scientific facts has resonated with many on the left. Kennedy refuses to accept facts about vaccines preventing diseases and that medications to treat various illnesses are a necessity. He thinks all pharmaceutical companies are promoting their medications just for profit and that they really don’t help against illnesses. Kennedy also believes that the government conspired in the assassinations of his uncle John Kennedy, his father Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He spouts all these lies and conspiracy theories without any evidence to back him up.

But people believe what he says because he’s a Kennedy and would seem to have no reason to lie. However, it appears that Kennedy doesn’t think he’s lying, accepting his own doctrines on faith. And the people who believe him also accept his words on faith, because they are misinformed and don’t like taking advice from experts and the “elites.” The vaccine skeptics and those who won’t acknowledge conventional medicine are doing harm to themselves, their families and their communities. And they weaken rather than strengthen America.

When confronted with contradictions in terms of what are considered facts and the truth about issues, people have to seek information themselves and not depend on the words of politicians and conspiracy theorists. It may be easier not to do the research and just follow the leader, but that path is not good for America and democracy. It’s bad on both the left and the right.

P.S- Investigate the Dunning Krueger effect, a cognitive bias where people with little knowledge, expertise or ability regarding an issue, tend to overestimate their knowledge or expertise. Many of the followers of Trump, DeSantis and Kennedy ably demonstrate the Dunning-Krueger effect in their views and actions.

Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Hate and Identity

Hate and Identity

            Robert A. Levine

The concept of identifying with a group and seeing outsiders as a threat is known to be present in many animal species below humans on the phylogenetic scale. This can be seen in a pack of wolves, in lions, monkeys and chimpanzees, who follow the alpha male in the group and may harass or attack other groups, particularly during mating season. Prehistoric man tended to live in small groups, always suspicious or antagonistic to outsiders. When man advanced to living in tribes, the members of these groups identified with their fellow members and were often hostile to those whom they saw as interlopers or those outside their tribes. This need for identity or to be part of a special group or community continued during the period when nation states were formed.

Bonds between people were formed on the basis of national identity (nationalism), the similar characteristics including race, religion and ethnicity or genetic origins. Again, people who were different in various ways, even if living in the same territory and citizens of the same state, were considered as interlopers who did not belong to the in-group. Because of their status as outsiders, they were often feared and seen as threats, and hatred of these ‘others’ grew more pronounced. In Europe, this antagonism and hatred of other ethnic groups has been occurring for centuries in many nations, leading to pogroms and massacres of minorities living in these nations. Though the population of every European nation participated to varying degrees in the hatred and conflict against outsiders, it seemed to be more prevalent in eastern European countries and Germany.

Certainly, tribal and national identities and hatred and killings of outsiders has not been limited to Europe. It is a general condition of mankind and has been present in Asia and Africa on a large scale as well as in North and South America. Unfortunately, white Christian identity movements have been growing throughout America as well as in European nations. Animosity towards other religious, racial and ethnic groups has been increasing and becoming more mainstream, with some white Christian groups feeling that America is being taken away from them. They tend to forget that indigenous peoples lived in America before whites colonized the land and if any group should feel hostility towards others it should be them.

The main reason for the hatred generated from ethno-nationalists is because some people are different than them and may come from other ethnicities, worship in other ways, or be of other races. There is nothing wrong with identifying with a particular group and feeling proud of your identity and of the accomplishments of your group. However, that does not preclude living in harmony with other ethnic, racial or religious groups and respecting the identity of the people in these groups. Hatred arises from fear of outside groups and supposed threats eminating from them. These threats are generally imaginary and are based to a large degree in difficulties in communication between groups.

There should be no reason that pride in one’s identity should threaten another group’s identity and cause hatred on one or both sides. Different people should be able to live together side by side in the same nation and cooperate in making life better for all citizens. Those who espouse hatred and foment conflict between peoples should be shunned by all of those who believe that a better and more peaceful world is possible.

Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble