Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Scott Adams' Interesting Counterintuitive Thoughts on Trump

Lots of verbiage here, none of it particularly insightful, sorry. TL;DR ("too long; didn't read") version: read this and, even if you don't agree with all of it, ask yourself whether perhaps legitimate anti-Trump dissent might have escalated into a genuine hysteria among people like me and, possibly, you.

If you've been Slogging long, you know that I try hard to understand mindsets that seem alien to me. I believe people are way too quick to dismiss dissenting viewpoints, and we apply way too little empathy to other points of view (a lot of such postings are tagged "Right Whispering")

My recent posting about "Illegals" tried to explain some of the intemperance on the Right regarding immigrants and immigration policy. I don't share that view, but it's wrong to assume it's always racist. In fact, left-wing extremism on the issue may have given rise to a reciprocal extremism on the right.

Here's an interesting posting by Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who's been reduced to a pariah by his attempts to measuredly suggest that perhaps Donald Trump isn't the antichrist. It's not a message of support, and there are none of the standard talking points. It doesn't claim Trump's a good guy, or that we ought to vote for him (I'd rather eat Applebee's). Adams focuses tightly on the proposition that the anti-Trump hysteria voiced by people like me may be as frothy and overblown as other historical popular hysterias have been (even smart people can get caught in hysterias!). And he tries to patiently diagram how it happened.

I've made my anti-Trump sentiment well known here, and while I don't agree with all of Adams thinking, and I think he ignores genuinely troubling indications (confirmation bias/herd mentality aside), I must uncomfortably concede that some of what he's saying makes sense. There is obviously some confirmation bias going on here. I've hit a point where I question my increasingly titanic level of antipathy. Have I caught an idea virus?

If I were to tell you your mailman was a serial killer, you'd view him in an entirely new light; reading things into his words and actions which you wouldn't do otherwise. Expectation is everything, and it can warp truth, whipping itself into a psychological vicious circle. It's possible Trump is more of a haplessly out-of-touch shmuck using outdated means of expression, rather than a white supremacist would-be autocrat. It might be at least somewhat a case of Leff's Fourth Law (with the caveat that the truly malicious have been seizing upon the incompetent for all of human history....David Dukes may love him, but scary whack jobs love Hillary, too).

Like me, you may not like Trump. You may not approve of his views nor his expression. You (hopefully) don't want him for president. But read this open-mindedly, resisting the urge to lash back at The Other. It won't help you like Trump, but it helps with the thing I've been desperately wrestling with: not concluding that a large chunk of the country is either monstrous or else the moronic patsies of a monster.

That sort of thing is not healthy thinking (though I am fully aware that from time to time bona fide monsters do get thrust into power by their patsies). I'd like to pull back from that brink, especially in light of the fact that I'm friends with plenty of Trump supporters who are perfectly nice people.

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