Fake News loves Stupid Americans

Winning the election was based on people’s perceptions or opinions, whether they were influenced by information which was hacked by Russia and released through wiki-leaks or fake news sites, or resulted from someone’s personal nightmare is hardly important.  Perception is different for each person because our personal filters are different,  but they most often driven by fear.  Perceptual filters are developed over time to protect us from things in the world which we found fearful and to guide us toward rewards which we found beneficial.   People tend to accept information which conforms to their existing beliefs or filters.  So, if you believe that long-time government officials are corrupt and driven by self-interest, (which could be damaging to your survival), then you will accept information that conforms to this belief.  Since Hillary Clinton has been involved in government for at least half of her adult life, then our filter suggests she must be a corrupt politician driven by self-interest.  This is faulty logic, but it is how people’s minds work because we do not think like computers, although we like to think we do.   And conversely, since Trump has never been elected to anything, he must be pure compared to a long-time politician.   It is bad logic because not every long-time politician is corrupt and probably most of them are not.   Likewise, lack of political experience does not mean Trump would govern any better than someone with experience but filters are not analytical, they just filter things according to existing beliefs.”

fake-news-headline
Still on the Internet 8 years after disproven.

 

“Men are Better Leaders than Women” – This is a belief that has existed, for thousands of years, but also is based on faulty logic and little evidence.  Since we did not allow women to lead or even vote until 1920 we have practically no evidence on which to make a valid judgement.   Unless you had women leaders and men leaders to compare and contrast you could not possibly know whether there was any significant difference in their leadership abilities.  But this faulty logic persists.  Even among women, there are many who believe women will not lead or govern as well as men, so in reality what we have is a false belief that only needed a little confirmation to have women voting against their own self-interest.  Although having a woman President would have helped to challenge a false, long-held belief and benefit women’s ability to compete in the world, the long-held belief kept many from voting in their own best interest.   Changing long-held beliefs is not an easy thing to do because our mind thinks, if I was wrong about that, what else might I be wrong about?  That can be a very scary thought to some people so the safe course of action is to stick with what I think I know, and don’t change without overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Take another belief that was fostered by the Trump campaign, that “the press lies and were out to get him.”  First, People know the press lies, because every time they check-out in the grocery store they are faced with bold headlines of lies reading, for example: “Barack and Michelle – Their Secret Divorce Plans” or “Castro’s Deathbed Confession – “I killed JFK!”   These are actual headlines from the National Enquirer and they are definitely untrue, so yes, the press lies but there are also people who believe these are true or that there is some truth to them.  These are the same people who believed the fake news because it conformed to their existing beliefs about their world, and the people in it.  Anyone’s mind will generally accept everything as true until your “Filter” tells you it is not.  If your mental filter is already full of prejudices, beliefs and attitudes that align with the headline, then you accept false information readily because it simply reaffirms what you thought you already knew.  Even if you question the information, you might still believe there is some truth in it, which sets you up to find more information to confirm your beliefs.

FBI Director Comey influenced the election based on only the fact that some more emails were found on someone else’s computer.  It took weeks to determine that these emails were devoid of any evidence of wrong-doing but the damage from insinuation was already made.  Those people who tended to believe that Hillary lies, (as repeatedly told by Republicans and Pundits on Fox News),  listened to the lies, innuendo and insinuations about Hillary Clinton and got more affirmation of their beliefs and maybe some converts too.  When someone keeps saying the same thing repeatedly as the Republicans did with their Hillary witch-hunt, people begin to believe that “where there is smoke, there is fire.”  Most of grew up with this wisdom-sounding advice which is really stupid logic.  It is only true when there is, in fact, an actual fire somewhere.  Oftentimes, something that looks like smoke is actually steam, dust,  a cloud or a smudge on your glasses.

Few of us saw much of the actual leaked information from WikiLeaks.com and none of it revealed any criminal or illegal activity.  But, it was interesting that although Russia probably did hack both the Republican and Democratic campaigns they only released information on a piecemeal basis about the candidate they did not support.  Putin made it clear he endorsed Donald Trump.  Generally, when your enemy supports a candidate that should be a warning to the whole country, but those who had already made up their minds refused to question their beliefs.  The candidate himself would normally reject such an endorsement but Trump embraced it.  He even sang Putin’s praises and suggested he was a great leader when in reality he is cruel Despot who would love to see the United States lose face in front of the whole world, and which we have done by electing Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign went further.  They used the leaked information to insinuate that terrible things were going on as revealed in the leaks without actually pointing at anything criminal. They even suggested that voting for Hillary would lead to a Nuclear War, although Trumps comments about “why do we make them (nuclear warheads)  if we don’t tend to use them” was far scarier.   Further, Trump himself repeatedly insinuated there was something hidden in the 33,000 personal emails that were deleted from Clintons web server.  But, these emails were personal information which was deleted and in complete compliance with court orders to turn over emails to the FBI.  No wrongdoing was discovered.  No charges were recommended by the FBI because no breach was found.  President-elect Trump considered General Petraeus for Secretary of Defense, yet he shared classified information and the FBI recommended felony prosecution.  Petraeus later plead guilty to a misdemeanor and a $100,000 FINE, yet this was apparently okay with the President-elect.  A double-standard?

In Hillary Clintons case, no determination of a smoking gun was found but that is exactly what Donald Trump kept saying.   He even encouraged mob behavior when people chanted “Hang Hillary” and other epithets.  He went so far as to suggest that maybe one of his gun-loving followers could take care of her, meaning kill his opponent.  His entire campaign promoted the idea that Clinton was a criminal and Trump promised to bring her to justice once he was elected.  But in reality, since there never was no evidence of criminal behavior or illegal, this is one of the first things Trump backed-away from after the election.  Trump himself used the “BIG LIE,” a common propaganda technique, to make Clinton sound guilty of something.  Yet, no criminal activity, criminal intent or illegal actions have ever been identified and dozens of fake news stories have since been debunked and determined to have originated by teenagers in Macedonia.  These teens got rich on advertising by publishing fake stories for people in the U.S. who liked and shared these stories because it supported their existing beliefs and was just more evidence that hey had been right all along.  These teens found that stories which benefited Trump generated more advertising dollars for them so they wrote more outlandish stories supporting Trump.  They thought it was funny that there were more Americans clicking on these fake news stories but all they cared about was generating more spending money.  They couldn’t care less who wins because they live in Macedonia, which is just North of Greece.  No doubt, they are laughing all the way to the bank about those “Stupid Americans!”

“The basis of our government is opinion of the people.  Responsibility is a tremendous engine in a free government.  To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.  The wise know too well their weakness to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows. 

A nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.  In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance…. How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.”                …Thomas Jefferson     

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