AIER: How Fanatics Hack Our Minds (And Why We Let Them)

Link to source.

The writer explains and explores the false dilemma logical fallacy.

This particular fallacy is exceedingly common in mass media, so much so that you can find examples of it even in casual commentary here in the Forum. Perhaps you, too, have had experiences like the one this excerpt describes:

“In one of psychology’s most famous experiments, Solomon Asch showed that if you’re in a group and most of the group members claim the shorter [of two lines drawn on a piece of paper] is longer, you might just go along. In his book You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney reports, ‘In Asch’s experiments, 75 percent of the subjects caved in on at least one question [about the length of the lines]. They looked at the lines, knew the answer everyone else was agreeing to was wrong, and went with it anyway.’

“Perhaps even worse, those who changed their correct answers to conform with others ‘seemed oblivious to their own conformity. When the experimenter told them they had made an error, they came up with excuses as to why they made mistakes instead of blaming the others.'”

20 thoughts on “AIER: How Fanatics Hack Our Minds (And Why We Let Them)

  1. I tried to take this article seriously. It was impossible. Bill Gates being smeared as a “crazed fanatic” lost me in the second paragraph. What was his sin? A simple statement of the truth – “normalcy” as we used to know it requires a vaccine. Same sin for Emanuel, though he added that a reliable treatment would suffice.

    Brownstein then descends into making things up about them . . .
    “Gates and Emmanuel refuse to acknowledge other possibilities. They fail to see the limitless possibilities that arise from voluntary adjustments by businesses and individuals.”

    Uh, no, they said nothing of the sort. Nor are the possibilities from “voluntary adjustments” limitless. And clearly these “adjustments” only confirm that “normalcy” has NOT been restored – validating the points made by those “crazed fanatics.”

    In the end it was just another sad “conservative” polemic dressed up in learned references.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Nor are the possibilities from ‘voluntary adjustments’ limitless. And clearly these ‘adjustments’ only confirm that ‘normalcy’ has NOT been restored – validating the points made by those ‘crazed fanatics.'”

      Got it. You wish to register with the there-is-no-choice group.

      Like

      1. @Roberts

        Try a little harder. I am not advocating ANYTHING. I am stating facts.

        1. A new way of life with individual and business adjustments is NOT “normalcy.”
        2. Such adjustments cannot eliminate deaths from the virus. They are NOT limitless.
        3. Neither Gates not Emanuel proposed the binary dilemma ascribed to them.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. RE: “Neither Gates not Emanuel proposed the binary dilemma ascribed to them.”

        As presented in the article, both take the view that there is no choice: One’s only options are to accept or reject the policy they favor. Perhaps elsewhere they have offered more nuanced reasoning, but that is beside the point.

        The point of the article is to illustrate the false dilemma fallacy. The quotations from both Gates and Emanuel provide good examples of it.

        Like

        1. @Roberts

          “As presented in the article, both take the view that there is no choice”

          Sure, but since neither one actually take such a view, your bullshit alarm should go off. Both men are subtle and nuanced thinkers. There is no reason whatsoever to think that such nonsense could be true. Neither is saying the economy must stay totally locked down until a vaccine or a cure is available. What they ARE saying – even as quoted in the article – is that we will not return to “normalcy” until that happens. And that is true.

          In the actual world of psychology, it is the “conservative” mind that sees everything as black or white. With nothing in between. No room for subtlety, ambiguity, conflicting evidence, gray areas, etc. This fellow may have such a mind and thinks he is fair in projecting such thinking where it does not exist. He is not.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. RE: “In the actual world of psychology, it is the ‘conservative’ mind that sees everything as black or white.”

          In the actual world of psychology, there is no such thing as a “conservative mind.” Who, again, are you accusing of seeing “everything as black or white”?

          As I said, the article uses the examples to illustrate a concept. Your existential arguments are utterly irrelevant to that, unless, perhaps, you intend to claim there is no such thing as the false dilemma fallacy.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

          Like

          1. @Roberts

            There are plenty of peer-reviewed studies that conclude there IS such a thing as a “conservative” mind. It is characterized by a variety of emotional and intellectual traits such as authoritarian tendencies, feelings of being oppressed, trouble processing ambiguity, complexity, uncertainty and conflicting evidence. As a result the “conservative” mind relies more than others on over-simplifications, black or white thinking, subservience to authority and stereotypes.

            For example . . .

            https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/can-your-genes-predict-whether-youll-be-a-conservative-or-a-liberal/280677/

            Liked by 1 person

  2. From prehistorical times until today…
    …mankind has been fighting amongst themselves for various reasons.

    What chafe’s my hide is that we’ve yet to get past race, creed, color, national origin, political and/or religious preferences.

    Don’t start something…I there won’t be nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What is interesting is the division of characteristics that create conflict.

      Race, color, and national origin are inherited. People have no choice. Antipathy based on those is just plain toxic nationalism and racism. The roots may be similar to tribes of chimpanzees warring against others for territory and mating. A tribal instinct that bonds one group against another.

      Creed, politics and religion are choices. Conflict in those is what we, as superior intellect animals, should be able to resolve since we created them. For whatever reason, the created characteristics are exploited for power and a way to turn a people into warriors for the leader’s pleasure and benefit.

      As I said before, Newt Gingrich created the current partisan divide, but Trump has perfected it. And we are seeing the application of social dissonance using all 6 characteristics in a poisonous grab for power.

      IMHO

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “We have become a nation of professional victims. We are not victimized by the coronavirus or by politicians and “experts.” We are victims of our choice to conform in support of their policies. Stephen Covey has observed, “It’s easy to take responsibility for the good things in our lives, but the real test comes when things aren’t going well.”

    Today, we can take responsibility for changing our minds. We are each 100% responsible for how we choose to interpret our experience of life. In her timeless book, The Discovery of Freedom Rose Wilder Lane explained why some prefer to turn over responsibility to authority. When something goes wrong, they proclaim I am an innocent victim of forces beyond my control. Pretending we are innocent is a steep price we pay for losing our freedom.”

    Boy, this quote fits both the conservative and the Trump mindset. Conservatives are continually pulling the victim card if they perceive, whether real or not, an attack on their values. The phony “War on Christmas” promulgated by FOX pundits is a good example. So is the “dittohead” phenomenon of Limbaugh’s audience who will follow the “expert” of talk radio to the ends of the earth.

    Trump, as we well know, has already abrogated responsibility for anything negative and takes credit for everything positive no matter if it is a result of his policies, actions, tweets or happenstance. And with the virus, Trump has said he is a victim of forces beyond my control. “Nobody predicted this pandemic”. Sure, nobody he listened to, perhaps.

    Gates is correct. If we want a return to normalcy, the vaccine is the only choice. If we are willing to set up a new normal based on endless testing, distancing, facemasks, quarantines and travel restrictions, then we don’t need a vaccine. Or we can try Sweden’s approach and try for herd immunity via a path of sacrificing the weak and elderly.
    But that is not a return to normalcy, but rather a return to pre-civilization Darwinian selection.

    Interestingly enough, the comments under the Youtube video of Gates talking about having no choice is packed with anti-vaxxers and anti-Gates conspiracy nuts. I am not sure why the antipathy to Gates other than it is probably promulgated by conservatives who see the world of the modern Republican party collapsing due a total moral meltdown in the interest of political power.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “I am not sure why the antipathy to Gates other than it is probably promulgated by conservatives who see the world of the modern Republican party collapsing due a total moral meltdown in the interest of political power.”

      I take it you consider yourself to be a member in good standing of a superior group, one inherently incapable of group think.

      Like

      1. Never said that, you did.

        If you think I am a member of a superior group, then bless you, my child, but you are mistaken.

        Group think is a real phenomenon. Nazi Germany was but one manifestation of such, perhaps the most egregious, in a long line of exploitation of conformity.

        When I see “dittoheads” used as a mark of fealty to a pundit with a large audience, I see mindless group think also. Fifth Avenue comes to mind for some odd reason, but I digress.

        I was in the military and a fraternity, so I am familiar with group think as it applies in particular situations.

        However, I think that owning my own photography illustration business was a 40 year school in establishing a contrarian point of view. Why? Because in many instances, the creative business I was in rewarded thinking outside the box and selling clients on better ideas than what their bosses, their clients and their wives for that matter, led them to accept. In other words, if I just took a photo that was styled, prepped and created to mimic what was already out there, why come to me.

        Not to say I didn’t follow clients instructions. That would be counterproductive for profit. But, there is a way to redirect client thinking. I have told this to many an assistant.

        Do the image the client wants, with input but not confrontation. Then offer to shoot another image on my dime using a different angle, light, background, and so on. 8 out of 10 times, my image prevailed.

        I would call that a balance between creative thinking and sensible business practices. That, and the realization that not every image I took was a work of great art.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. @Roberts

        “. . .inherently incapable of group think.” People who oppose Trump?

        Hardly.

        “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” – Will Rogers

        The reality is that the modern GOP manifests group think to the nth degree as anyone with different ideas is labelled a RINO and forced out. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the real marketplace ideas where competing ideas are thrashed out in the political process.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the real marketplace ideas where competing ideas are thrashed out in the political process.”

          I’ll bet every other Democrat would say the same thing.

          Like

          1. Why shouldn’t they? From a political power stand point, the diversity of ideas and lack of strict party discipline is a drawback. But from a point of progress, it is the only way to go.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. @Roberts

            I get that one. Droll!

            Of course, just about every Democrat would say the daytime sky is blue. When evidence supports a idea, it is not group think.

            Most remaining Republicans think that “Trump is doing a great job.” With so little actual evidence to support that idea, it is a good example of group think. Those who dare to challenge that idea are cast out. RINOS. Ideas outside of the group think idea are anathema.

            Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s