Saturday, 24 October 2020

Still Lying to Win. How Desperate Donny is STILL Trying to Fool Americans

Belief in the truth-value of narratives by candidate preference.
QAnon story gains credence with up to 44% of Americans: News: The Media School

The latest report from Indian University's Observatory on Social Media shows a continuing campaign of lies and disinformation emanating from QAnon, designed to win support for Donald Trump by fooling Americans.

It shows how this tactic is having its greatest success amongst republican voters, who appear to be the most gullible and susceptible to conspiracy theories and unlikely narratives. This bears out the recent article in Psychology Today which explained the psychology behind the making of a Trump voter.

This latest report continues to track responses to narratives about Joe Biden's mental fitness and the validity of mail-in votes which were included in the earlier reports, and adds three new statements:
  1. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a vaccine that causes polio in Africa.
  2. QAnon is correct that pedophiles and cannibals currently serve in U.S. government positions.
  3. Face masks increase the risk of spreading and contracting Covid-19.
The survey revealed that while belief that Biden is mentally unfit for office has fallen from 46% to 40% following his performance in televised presidential debates, awareness of the narrative had increased a little, from 43% to 48%. However, belief that mail-in votes cause election fraud has grown from about 46% to an astonishing 50%.

Of the new lies, the most successful seems to be the ludicrous lie about paedophiles and canibals in government with just over half of Trump voters believing it is likely true or definitely true, while just over a third of Biden supporters thought the same. This of course is designed to appeal to the ultra-superstitious Christian fundamentalists who are susceptible to tales of Satanic rituals, including child sacrifices.

The almost equally implausible story about the Gates Foundation spreading Polio in Africa has 36% of Americans fooled, while only 23% were fooled by the lie that wearing a face mask increases the spread of coronavirus.

As the survey report explains:
The latest survey reiterated findings of the second report that false narratives gain more acceptance among participants from the right of the political spectrum, with supporters of the Trump/Pence ticket being significantly more likely to believe the false narratives than those supporting the Biden/Harris ticket. For instance, about 74% of Trump/Pence supporters who responded to the study believed Joe Biden to be unfit for office, compared with about 18% of Biden/Harris supporters. Similarly, about 74% of Trump/Pence supporters believed the stories about mail-in ballots, compared with about 36% of Biden/Harris supporters.

A new element in the third survey looked at how thought processes might play into the likelihood of believing false narratives. Participants were asked if they identified as “principled” thinkers – those who believe loyalty to ideals and principles is more important than open-mindedness. The results show that people who identify themselves as 'principled thinkers' were more than twice as likely to believe all five unsupported narratives, suggesting that qualities of open-mindedness play a key role in countering false information.

It seems that many Trumpanzees consider themselves to be 'principled' thinkers and so loyal to ideas rather than open-minded and amenable to reason. In other words, 'principled thinking' means having a mind that is closed to changes in evidence. Once belief in a conspiracy becomes fixed in their mind, any counter-argument or evidence is dismissed as part of the conspiracy and the lack of evidence become evidence of a cover-up. As good an example of confirmation bias in operation as you could wish for.

As we saw with anotherPsychology Today article recently, people who are high in social dominance orientation, i.e., people who see society as stratified with themselves occupying a higher strata that others and hence dominant in society (a term which almost perfectly defines a Trumpanzee) will often try to enhnce their perceived status in society to where they believe they should be, and so are susceptible to being fooled by wackadoodle conspiracy theories and will often claim to know impossible things to be true with complete certainty. As quoted in that article:
For example, although many such people are quite ignorant of history, science, or even the basic facts of the world, they’re unwilling to admit what they don’t know. As a result, they’re highly susceptible to the “false facts” of government propaganda and entertainment media masquerading as news networks. They also tend to engage in overclaiming, that is, asserting that they know certain patently false concepts to be true.

These people will also often become violent in defence of their beliefs, believing that their rightful status is under attack - again, what we are witnessing with stridently racist white supremacists and the threats being issued by Trump-supporting extremists from the far right.

As Co-author and Media School professor, Betsi Grabe warns:.
... being principled is generally considered an admirable trait.

"But if we let those beliefs blind us to evidence that is contrary to our opinions, we run the risk of becoming vulnerable to misinformation,” she said. “Some people might grasp at misinformation to confirm their existing beliefs, while others twist interpretations of reliable evidence to match what they already believe.”

Grabe said social psychologists identify this tendency as the so-called “confirmation bias.”

“At a time of relatively high national uncertainty, we might be more vulnerable to seek comfort in misinformation that aligns with what we believe,” she said. “But the long-term consequences of that solace could have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of individual citizens — and the longevity of democracy.”

Having a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of individual citizens and the longevity of democracy are of no concern to Donald Trump and his supporters on the extreme right. They would like nothing more than the destruction of democracy in America and the imposition of a right-wing dictatorship, in alliance with the fundamentalist Christians who have thrown their lot in with Trump as their best chance of achieving the unelected theocracy under their control that they consider theirs by right.

On November 4th we will discover whether the anti-democratic Trump side has succeeded in fooling enough Americans to give them the chance of achieving their seditious ambitions, although the official result may not be known for some time as Trump has indicated that he will contest the election if he loses, which would mean his placemen and women on the SCOTUS get a chance to award him the presidency against the wishes of the American people as expressed in the ballot box, just as the Electoral College did in 2016.

Given Donald Trumps narcissism, he is psychologically only capable of imagining two scenarios: either he wins, or he has been cheated of his rightful win. He will not accept defeat without a fight.

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