Last week, I have watched John Oliver’s video on YouTube. I highly recommend you to watch it. In short, he explains where Trump is getting his “facts”, how Trump and supporters of Trump affect each other, and why people should be cynical when it comes to news and facts. The last point is very important for every people, not only for American people. But, there is another important problem about Trump and other countries.
I would like to begin with a really interesting theory for why we haven’t contacted extraterrestrial life, yet. We have so many stars in the universe and those stars have multiple planets; so can we say aliens exist in at least one of those planets? If they do, why they haven’t contacted us? The theory is that everyone is listening and nobody is transmitting. Just like us, the aliens might try to find clues or messages about extraterrestrial life. But, just like us, they might not have technology or some ways to transmit a signal or anything to outer space. That is one of the theories, I think the most interesting, theory of all theories about extraterrestrial life.
Now, back to our story. We have the reverse type of this thing in masses of people: Everyone is talking and nobody is listening. People who have the same ideas come together and try to discriminate the others. Once the sides are decided, nobody listens to the other side, nobody changes their minds no matter what happens. Once the sides are decided, people become fanatics about their choice. CGP Grey has a really good video about this “evolution of ideas” and how these ideas actually help each other’s spreading.
Now, this “getting a wrong fact” actually doesn’t explain many things. One of which is the true fact about Trump’s talk regarding women, which should have had huge effect on people’s ideas about Trump, including his voters, of course. But, that was not the case. People who were supporting Trump kept supporting him, even women whom Trump thinks “he can grab by the p****”. This is not a “wrong fact” and the tape was not even denied by Trump. So, why did people still wanted to vote for him?
One of the answer is “fanaticism”. As I said before, once the sides are taken people tend to keep supporting the people or ideas they have been supporting. Just because your favorite football team lost to another team, you do not begin to support the other team, right? This is the same mentality, whose results can actually hurt, unlike being a fan of a football team. People were supporting Trump, because of his “honesty”, having his own money -not being bought by lobbies-, and his showmanship. They kept supporting him after he said that disgusting sentence, because they didn’t want their favorite candidate to lose. This is not only true for political parties, but also true for ideas and facts. Veritasium has a really good and interesting video about this issue. You can find it below.
Veritasium’s video, titled Why Anecdotes Trump Data. The point about how difficult changing an opinion is starts at 2:50, but I recommend you to watch it from the beginning.
Another thing is what I will refer to as “In-group hegemony”. Let’s say a person is involved in a group, which can also be a political party, because the group’s ideologies are similar to this person. After some time, even if the group decides to do something that opposes its -and the person’s- ideology; the person would think as if he/she believes that, too. Let’s give an example to this complicated thing. People, who had the similar ideology or agreeing the same issue, supported Trump for presidency. When he revealed he is going to ban Muslims from entering America, people kept supporting him. Some of them thought he was using it to just to gain more votes, but some of them actually supported the idea of Muslim ban. Part of the people supported it, because they were already supporting Trump’s ideology and their ideology had similarities with Trump’s ideology; so they psychologically and unconsciously supported Trump’s idea of Muslim ban. These people would normally oppose the idea of Muslim ban, actually supported it because of Trump’s passive hegemony in Republican voters. If you are curious about rest of the supporters, they are racists.
Nevertheless, I believe things are not going well, not because people are getting “wrong facts” from news, but they choose rather to have or learn “facts” that support their own beliefs, ideas, and ideology. Even if they watch news of other ideology, they would not accept those “facts” and would claim the channel fabricates some facts. Furthermore, I believe, if a newsreader from those people’s favorite channel would say something that opposes those people’s beliefs or ideas, people will claim the newsreader is lying or hiding the truth.
In conclusion, I believe the main problem is not having or learning wrong facts. The problem is fanaticism and in-group hegemony. I’ll write what I think about the solutions to these problems, maybe not the next week, about later weeks.