By Matt Johnson
So it is indeed the case that Donald Trump is now president-elect. And on January 2017, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States.
Are you surprised? If you are a bleeding-heart liberal or fierce supporter of Clinton’s, then you probably are surprised. Hillary Clinton should be president-elect right now. But she’s not and the post game sickness is reaching far and wide on the political left.
You’re probably wondering, “How the fuck did this happen?” Or perhaps your saying, “This is indeed a racist, misogynist, and bigoted country! Institutional and structural racism are alive and well!” And as a consequence, you decided to stay home from work today. But the bottom line is Trump won and the bubble is real.
That damn bubble of cognitive dissonance got in the way. Oh wait! That’s right. Liberals are the intelligent ones who defy social psychology and persuasion. They are highly evolved members of our species and they are the party of science, except that whole cognitive dissonance thing. And they are immune to such lapses in human brain function.
But the social psychology of a Trump win is only one part of the scientific ignorance that is modern liberalism. They missed the probability part as well.
It must be acknowledged that a Trump presidency was not impossible. According to the consistent polling by Nate Silver’s 538 since the very beginning of Trump’s run to the White House, Trump’s odds of winning were low. But they were never impossible. It was never the case that Trump would not win, although many people thought it. But why were they thinking it?
As Scott Adams explained in his book God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment,
If you are proven to be right a hundred times in a row, no amount of evidence will convince you that you are mistaken in the hundred-and-first case. You will be seduced by your own apparent infallibility. Remember that all scientific experiments are performed by human beings and the results are subject to human interpretation.
In other words, the vast majority of the mainstream media polls had Hillary Clinton winning. This was the feedback loop that was feeding the “hundred times in a row.” But these polls were only snapshots in time, specifically for that time when they were conducted. It is highly doubtful that the vast majority of the mainstream media outlets were using Bayesian statistics to forecast outcomes from sample data like 538 or Princeton.
And yes, it was reasonable for a Clinton supporter to say, “Yeah! She’s got this in the bag.” But that was the problem. Did Clinton supporters bother to ask themselves what would happen on “the one hundred-and-first” time? Did they notice that a 20 percent chance of Trump winning by Silver’s probability forecast was still a 20 percent chance of Trump winning, and not a 100 percent chance of Clinton winning?
This cognitive dissonance along with the ignorance of probability is more than likely what led to the downfall of the Clinton campaign and the rise of Donald J. Trump. And these two interacting notions more than likely won’t be analyzed as real possibilities for the failure of the Clinton campaign and the cognitive dissonance and lack of understanding of probability by her supporters. In fact, mainstream media outlets such as MSNBC and CNN are already spinning this Clinton loss as a “What the hell happened? How is this possible?” and as a regression against the direction of America’s bend toward justice.
Many on Facebook and Twitter are calling this the downfall of America. And instead of focusing on cognitive dissonance and probability, these pesky scientific notions, they are focusing on Trump’s dirty laundry and the deplorable nature of his followers; and this assumes that all of his followers are racist, sexist, bigots. Indeed, how could a non-racist, sexist, bigot vote for a
…three times married, 5 times draft dodger and 6 times bankrupt sexual predator who is about to go on trial for fraud? And not to mention he is a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe!
And that’s precisely the problem. There weren’t a lot of people who bothered to ask themselves why a non-racist, sexist, bigot would vote for Trump? But there were a few. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the Scott Adam’s Blog did. He wrote about Trump for the past 18 months; it was extremely insightful, and in addition he predicted Trump would win in a landslide.
The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt did, although his exploration was through moral foundations and political philosophy. Some of the writers from The Systems Scientist did as well, including this writer. There were probably others as well, but not the vast majority of writers or media pundits. That was not in the cards.
But instead, the media and its pundits used traditional tools to analyze a non-traditional candidate. Over and over, they kept asking themselves why Trump was winning. And besides being clueless, they ignored the cry and needs of many of those who now consider themselves “Deplorables!” despite the fact that Michael Moore and Glenn Beck both agreed that Washington and the media elite refused to listen to the average, middle American worker.
Perhaps it was the case of refusing to accept two supposedly contradicting realities at the same time; that is, socio-economic differences between whites and blacks, and white middle class workers in middle America experiencing disenfranchisement from the federal government and the media elite.
The United States is a very big place with more than 320 million people!
And so we return to the present. Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. He will have an opportunity to implement his policies and we should have a pretty good idea over the next couple years to see how this all plays out.
Will he be the tyrant that some have predicted? Will he be the best president in the history of the universe? Or will his presidency be somewhere in between?
This election is over for us. But our cognitive dissonance and lack of understanding of probability is not. Both are a part of our nature but it doesn’t mean we have to settle for it, i.e., the bubble. If we can suck up the defeat for what it is, cognitive dissonance and the lack of understanding of probability, and learn from it, and understand why it happened, then we’ll be able to move forward. This will be the true test of our adversity and self-actualization.
Trump served us a delicious, homemade humble pie and we ought to be happy for the opportunity to eat it.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
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