Hypocrisy and Tribalism in American Politics

Miri Mogilevsky has a very insightful post at Brute Reason in which she argues that many of the positions we attribute to hypocrisy on the part of conservatives and Trump supporters are not really hypocrisy, but are rather tribalism at work. I have a small quibble with that framing, but the substance of what she has to say is spot on. … [Read more...]

What Every Dictator Knows: Young Men are Natural Fanatics

I'm republishing this full article from Joe Herbert, emeritus professor of neuroscience at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge, under a creative commons license. It's a very fascinating piece about why young men are natural fanatics and easily turned into a mob by demagogues. The reason: Testosterone, for the most part. … [Read more...]

How Macedonian Teens Spread Pro-Trump Lies

When I wrote my absurdly controversial post about the liberal political sites that should not be trusted, many people freaked out that I hadn't named similar conservative sites. Buzzfeed has an article about those and how many of them are run by teenagers in Macedonia who couldn't care less about the election. It's just about making money. … [Read more...]

Answering Criticisms of My Post About Crappy Liberal ‘News’ Sites

On Sunday I published a post entitled "Please stop sharing links to these sites" and all hell broke loose. As of this writing, it has almost 500 comments on it, most of them either completely missing the point or just outright dumb. This post will answer some of the most common responses. … [Read more...]

What Neuropsychology Tells Us About Trump’s Appeal

Cognitive neuroscientist Bobby Azarian has a column in Psychology Today that seeks to explain the seemingly unshakable appeal of Donald Trump for many on the right. Part of that explanation includes things I've talked about a lot in trying to explain it myself, but he adds a couple other elements I hadn't thought about. … [Read more...]

Most People Only Read Headline Before Sharing

Anyone who has spent much time on social media already knows this, but now there's a study to back it up. Nearly 60% of the time, the person who shares a link to some article on social media didn't bother reading it before doing so. This is my shocked face. … [Read more...]

Coulter, Lewandowski Fall for Fake News Website

It's bad enough that people on my Facebook feed fall for sites like abcnews.com.co (notice those extra two letters, they're kind of important), but when a major conservative figure and the campaign manager for the leading Republican presidential candidate do it, that's far worse. And that's what just happened. … [Read more...]

Donald Trump’s Biggest Supporters: Authoritarians

Matthew MacWilliams, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has an article at Politico about a study he did recently to find out what traits defined Donald Trump supporters. And he found that one trait determined whether someone was likely to support Trump: a penchant for authoritarianism. This comes as no surprise to me whatsoever. … [Read more...]

Why People Feel God’s Presence

Josh Zepps has an interview on Point of Inquiry with John Wathey, a biologist and neuroscientist, about his new book, The Illusion of God's Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing. Prometheus Books sent me a copy of the book and I've read just a bit of it, but I suspect that he is on to something in explaining why people intuitively "feel" God's presence. … [Read more...]

On the Development and Distribution of Bullshit

Gordon Pennycock, a grad student at the University of Waterloo, has a piece at Aeon on the subject of bullshit. He's done a study on the matter and discusses that, but starts out with an example of bullshit that may not, in fact, be bullshit. We have no way of knowing. But the core of this statement is undoubtedly true, that we swim in a sea of bullshit: … [Read more...]

Conservative Psychology and the Appeal of Donald Trump

Thomas Edsall asked a group of experts on social psychology to weigh in on the secret of Donald Trump's appeal and they're pretty much unanimous in pointing to the studies on the psychology of political conservatives that show those on the right are highly reactive to disgust and perceived external threats, crave purity in every sense, and seek out authoritarian leaders. Jonathan Haidt: … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Tribalism

I have written endlessly about tribalism over the last few years, particularly about the way in which it can subvert our ability to think rationally about a subject. I see it do so in myself and others every single day. David Ropeik has a post at Big Think about that same subject and he is convinced of the same thing. … [Read more...]