Republicans and mass delusions

Two-thirds of Republicans — representing about 27% to 29% of the total U.S. population — still cling to a belief that the 2020 election was “stolen,” according to a Yahoo News/You Gov poll published on Thursday, August 5, 2021. See story here.

In addition, “Only 15 percent of Republicans blamed Trump supporters who gathered at the Capitol for the violence that took place on Jan. 6, while 48 percent of Republicans said that ‘left wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad’ were largely at fault,” the poll found.

And there’s this (story here):

“Since the presidential election, Christina Jensen says she’s been stopped on the street several times by acquaintances who wanted to share troubling news: hackers from Beijing had switched nearly 24,000 votes for Donald Trump in their rural, GOP-leaning Wisconsin county. Jensen, the Clark County clerk and a Republican herself, has patiently explained that the local election computer system isn’t connected to the internet — and the county has less than 17,000 registered voters overall. But she finds herself unable to convince those constituents of the simple fact that the election wasn’t stolen: ‘They are like, Well, Mike Lindell says this,’ Jensen said.”

A lot of people in this country not only believe conspiracy theories for which there’s no evidence, but also absolute baloney that’s flat-out illogical. You could wave the actual election results (here) in front of their faces — 10,002 for Trump, 4,524 for Biden, 372 for other candidates — and they’d still believe China switched 23,909 of those 14,898 total votes from Trump to Biden.

In 1841, Scottish author Charles Mackay (bio here) published a famous book entitled, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds (available here), described by Wikipedia (here) as “an early study of crowd psychology.” Some of the subjects he covered include the tulip mania, South Sea bubble, the Crusades, witch trials, haunted houses, and fortune tellers.

A famous 19th century aphorism, often attributed to showman P. T. Barnum (probably inaccurately, details here) holds that “there’s a sucker born every minute.” Other permutations of this facet of human nature include “people believe what they want to hear” (known as “response bias,” details here).

And Mark Twain supposedly said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Another dubious attribution; details here.)

These are all timeless, and accurate, observations about human nature; so, we shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people believe stuff about the 2020 election and Capitol riot “that just ain’t so.” And, I might add, about masks and vaccines, too. (Generally, it’s the same people.)

Trying to argue with delusional people is useless.

When minds are closed and facts bounce off, and you’re facing irrational people, there’s not much you can do except walk away.

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