Those Damn Pathological Republican Skeptics !
On April 28th, Chris Hayes, the guest host for ‘The Last Word’ on MSNBC, likened Birthers to Skeptics.
Joining Chris on the show were Chris Mooney, a political journalist for Mother Jones magazine, and Jonathan Kay, a managing editor of Canada’s National Post newspaper, who also wrote a book about conspiracy theorists.
Here is some excerpts from that program:
Mooney: There is a science of why we deny science, right? There are facts about why we can’t accept facts. Basically, it’s a theory called motivated reasoning. What it does is it takes modern neuroscience and shows, you know, how our processes of reasoning are actually driven by emotion. And we make up our minds subconsciously before we are even actually consciously thinking what we think and then we are down a path and we’re already rationalizing.
Hayes: People who are watching this are trusting that I’m not lying to them. And when I read a newspaper or when I read the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report from the UN, I trust that the whole thing isn’t a fabricated hoax. So how different is – John, maybe you can answer this. Is there something that delineates conspiracist belief formulations from sort of normal belief formation, with all of its biases, et cetera?
Kay: Yes, there is. And that is the fact that if you take a normal, rational person and you give them contrary evidence to what they believe, they will re-examine their original hypothesis. Whereas if you take a conspiracy theorists and give them contrary information, they will always simple expand the circle of conspirators. So, for instance, in the case of the Birthers, if you way, well, you know, the secretary of health and the governor, they have all said the birth certificate is legitimate, they will simply draw a bigger circle around the conspiracy and say, well, they’re in on it too; the media is in on it too; the justice system is in on it too. It’s a pathological way of thinking, which is utterly different from rational thought. I actually compare it to religion, in the sense that if you’re a committed Christian or a committed Jew or a committed Muslim, it doesn’t matter what your faith is. If someone gives you contrary evidence to your beliefs, you wont simply say, well, I guess I’ll re-examine my religious beliefs. You’ll say I take this on faith. And that’s the way I believe. Conspiracy theories, in many ways, are a religious faith for a secular age.
Later in the show, Hayes asks:
Hayes: The question is, is Robert Gibbs right that the nature of American public life at this moment makes these problems worse, exacerbates them as opposed to mitigates them?
Kay: I think the big problem is the technology. Because this has always been part of human psychology. The problem is now technology, in particular the media on the Internet, allow people to inhabit their own reality on websites. The conspiracy theorists that I interviewed don’t watch shows like this. They don’t watch the mass media. Typically, they are in their own little self- contained Internet bubble of people who think like they do. So in their mind, they are not outsiders because they are surrounded every day, virtually, by people who think the way they do. This has never existed in American society prior to the Internet. Conspiracy theorists always had to go outside, interact with people, turn on the mass media, read a newspaper eventually, because that’s the only way to get news. And so they were confronted with the fact that they were outsiders. That reality doesn’t exist now. They can go into a custom made reality, inhabited only by people who share their esoteric beliefs. That is new.
Chris goes on and makes the leap here that its Republicans that are pathological:
Mooney: I think there’s a reality gap between the parties. Republicans and Democrats believe different things about a lot of issues and it turns out Republicans are more likely to wrong. We can talk about that. But one of the factors is, you know, everyone has their own experts now. There’s been a 30, 40-year campaign to build right wing think tanks to fight back against academic experts. And so, you know, everyone can say I’ve got a PhD who thinks this. And for every PhD, there’s an equal and opposite PhD.
Hayes: In the case of global warming particularly, which is a very, very high-stakes conspiracy theory, that a majority of Republicans out there share – John, what did you learn about how you break – you sort of break this kind of vicious cycle that conspiracists are under?
Kay:We have to teach people that conspiracism is a way of thinking that is pathological, and you have to exercise your mental self-discipline to try to get around it.
So there you have it.
A left wing show, with left wing hosts, questioning left wing supporters, to come to the conclusion that Republicans are pathological.
And in case you just skimmed over the excerpts, let me re-print what Mooney said about Republicans, “Republicans and Democrats believe different things about a lot of issues and it turns out Republicans are more likely to wrong.”
So, Birthers are no different than Skeptics, and they are both pathological Republicans.
Well, there you have the definitive summation of liberal media. Blame the Republicans and case solved.
Is there no end to the insanity.