I consider myself a “truther” though obviously not in the way Trump popularized the word (see Google search
). All of my friends are truthers in the sense that they understand how confirmation bias is universal and while we are usually not as susceptible as some people, we still often tend to believe what we want to believe.
When we hear things we wish
were true we try not to take them for granted. We engage in what is called reality testing, the mental function by which the objective or real world and one’s relationship to it are reflected on and evaluated by the observer. This is the process of distinguishing the internal world of thoughts and feelings from the external world. (Wikipedia
) Impaired reality testing is considered a psychological dysfunction and in extreme cases can be a sign of psychosis.
We generally use the Internet to discern truth from falsehood and know how to assess reporting from the media which Trump rails against as purveyors of fake news. (We know the difference between Breitbart and Bloomberg.) I can’t count the times many of us use our iPhones to “ask Siri” for references when we are in doubt of the facts about something.
Much has been written about why ardent Trump supporters seem to be like cult members in thrall to the leader. The MSNBC “road warriors” crisscross the country asking Trump supporters why they believe things he says that obviously are lies. Here are two comments about the belief systems of Trump supporters which I think are worth sharing.
Both of the following are psychological explanations as to why so many Trump supporters believe his confidently spewed but easily disproven lies from “As Trump Spreads A Fog Of Falsehoods, His Fans Believe Them And Make Excuses For Him” in today’s HUFFPOST.
There are a lot of scientific explanations for it, but most of them boil down to ‘shooting the messenger.’ Deep down, they know that these things are false. They don’t care. What they object to is the sense of inferiority created when someone tells them that the things they know to be false are actually false. From Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and the author of the recent book, “The Death of Expertise.
The other quote comes from Republican Rick Wilson, author of the recent “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” He often appears on MSNBC. Some of his expletive filled comments were bleeped out of a Morning Joe segment.
This is the HUFFPOST quote from Wilson: “Once a con man cons somebody, there is a bias among the marks not to admit that they’re that stupid. In this particular one, they want it to go on and on. They love it. When you start from the assumption that they know they’re wrong, and how the immensity of the cognitive dissonance makes them deeply uncomfortable, the rest of their reactions start to make a lot more sense.”
One thing I have to give Trump credit for is that he has led people who weren’t well versed in the social sciences to learn about things like inferiority complexes, cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, and my area of expertise, malignant narcissism.