Thanks to reader njmcc for pointing this out to me. I’m honestly confused at how dumb some people are. George Carlin once said “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” I think he was right on the money and the more that we see of humanity, the worse it gets. Okay, granted, with today’s 24-hour news cycle and the prevalence of cell phone video recording everything we do, it could just be that stupid people are being caught being stupid more often and being posted to more places that are accessible, but it does make me lose my faith in humanity more and more each day. So are people really getting dumber or is there something else at work here?
There are a couple of examples, originally presented here, that really do make me want to bang my head on a brick wall for a couple of weeks. I’ll present what was said in the article, then take a look at what’s really going on.
Anti-Vaccer Stupidity: This is a common one, but in a study recently published in Pediatrics, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth University and his colleagues showed that as evidence was presented for the safety of vaccines, those already convinced that vaccines were unsafe became even more convinced of their danger. This is called the “backfire effect” and is a well known cognitive bias. People will over-react to news that ought to reduce negative feelings, using it to instead strengthen those negative feelings. It makes no sense but, as I said, it’s very common, especially in the conspiracy community, where the more evidence one presents that a particular conspiracy isn’t true, the more conspiracy theorists will believe that the conspiracy has to be true. The evidence itself is seen as proof of the conspiracy. I’m sure that the die-hard
Tax Cuts Increase Revenue: Now in the article, they do correctly point out that “conservatives” (how did they know they were conservatives?) who read an article about George W. Bush’s statement that tax cuts “helped increase revenues to the Treasury,” which was proven wrong in this particular instance by financial data in 2000 and 2003 and were convinced that the statement was correct. Okay, my question is the exact context of the article they were given to read. The reality is, lower taxes *DO* increase revenues to the Treasury under normal circumstances, people who have more money to spend will spend more money in their local community, thus raising revenues, thus raising taxes collected at local businesses. Now Mother Jones is a liberal rag, I wouldn’t trust it farther than I could throw it and they hate free-market capitalism and will jump at any chance to insult it, but assuming all other factors are true, either the readers of this article didn’t make the connection between the financial data and the quote or, as may be the case, there is a cognitive bias that caused them to double down on their stupidity. The fact remains though, and I am no fan of George W. Bush, but his 2001 tax cuts on the most wealthy Americans did increase revenue. In 2001, before the tax cuts took place, the richest 1% of taxpayers paid $301 billion dollars in combined taxes. By 2006, the same 1% were paying $408 billion. The total percentage paid by the richest 10% of the country went from 65% before the tax cuts to 71% after. Cutting taxes. It works.
Death Panels: Yes, once again it’s clear of Mother Jones’ absurd liberal bias, but let’s continue. Now clearly, Sarah Palin was being obtuse when it comes to Obamacare creating Death Panels because, like it or not, Death Panels have been with us for many, many years. They are a function of the insurance industry, it’s the point where your insurance carrier stops paying the bills because you’ve reached the maximum payout. My father, for example, when he hit the hospital with stage four cancer and nothing could be done, his insurance company bailed out after just a couple of days, he had reached his lifetime maximum and they were done paying. For most people, that means that, for financial reasons, keeping the care flowing is virtually impossible. Welcome to your death panel! That was many years before Obamacare was even the twinkle in the eye of anyone in the Democratic Party but it’s just as present there as it has been all along. Nothing has changed, it’s no more prevalent now than it was in the past, Palin was just running around screaming the sky is falling because that’s what politicians do. It is true and it has to be true, Obamacare is built around the existing insurance industry and no company can just pay and pay and pay forever, they don’t have an unlimited supply of money to throw at medical care, they have to take in more than they pay out. Welcome to the reality of business. Palin was wrong, Obamacare wouldn’t create Death Panels but it certainly would continue to use the ones that already existed. It’s sad that people don’t understand the basics.
Obama is a Muslim: This one is stupid and refuses to go away and there is no excuse whatsoever that the right wing can give for it. I think a lot of the “Obama is a Muslim” crap came from the “Obama is a Kenyan” nonsense. Kenya is a largely Muslim nation and Obama’s father, who came from and largely lived in Kenya, even though he was, himself, an atheist, probably is the source of the misconception about his son. Yes, it’s dumb, yes, Obama has come out many times and said he’s a Christian, although that’s backfired on him too, especially due to his relationship with racist preacher Jeremiah Wright. I don’t know that, beyond some real crackpots, most people believe that Obama is a secret Muslim anyhow, I’m hoping that what imaginary friends he believes in, if any, are irrelevant to his ability to do the job he was elected to. His religion ought to have no bearing whatsoever on his job performance. Of course, we saw this same thing happen when JFK was elected, people were up in arms because he was a Catholic and not a nice Protestant boy like the majority of Americans. I don’t think this is a racial issue particularly, just a xenophobia issue. Anything that is different, be it religion, be it skin color, be it gender or sexual orientation, people react badly to and the more people try to tell them it doesn’t matter, the harder they cling to their beliefs.
Iraq and Al Qaeda: There’s a reason this was a common claim during the Bush era, Bush himself used it as a means for getting into Iraq when he could come up with no other reason to go after the man who tried to kill his daddy. Therefore Bush lied to Congress, he asked his staff to find, or barring that manufacture evidence that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attack. They went so far as to claim that they knew exactly where the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam supposedly had were located, even though they couldn’t find a single one of them following the fall of Iraq and the death of Saddam. It was a stunt and it worked and even today, you have political toadies desperately trying to defend the stunt because to admit it was a lie would be a black stain on the neo-cons and the Republican Party and they don’t need any more dark stains on their already polka-dotted reputation. Of course, the left is just as guilty of similar indiscretions, they try to white-wash the evils of their own party and I’m sure lots of liberals even believe their own party’s spin on things. It goes both ways. Of course, you wouldn’t expect Mother Jones to be honest about that, would you?
Global Warming: Ah yes, another liberal talking point. They couldn’t find any evidence of the “backfire effect” here so they waved their hands, presto chango, and tried to concoct a “boomerang effect” from their Republican victims. Yeah, okay, the Republicans didn’t fall, hook, line and sinker for their “sky is falling” global warming narrative, therefore something has to be wrong with the Republicans. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, climate change is happening. To some degree, it is caused by humanity. That doesn’t mean we’re solely to blame and it doesn’t mean there’s necessarily a lot we can do about it even if we were. Sure, we should be responsible but that doesn’t mean we should all go crazy, live in huts and wear fig leaves. I find it funny that the liberal narrative keeps changing as the data does. Oh no, it’s global warming, until it isn’t really warming, then they have to rebrand it to global climate change. Oh no, the ice caps are melting! Except they’re not. In 2013, the polar ice cap increased by over 50% from 2012 levels. Remember when Al Gore, prophet of the liberal lunacy, said in 2008, “Some of the models suggest that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during some of the summer months, could be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years”? Now we’re seeing the North Pole ice coverage rebounding, up to about 9000 cubic kilometers in 2013 from a low of 6,000 cubic kilometers a year before. This sends the liberals into a tizzy because they have to explain why things aren’t following the expected party line. The reality is, global warming stopped 15 years ago and shows no sign of coming back, no matter how much crap we pump into the atmosphere. The liberals have shaped the narrative carefully though, you never see them talking about global climate change before man was industrialized, even though we know that the planet goes through regular cycles. We certainly can’t be the cause of them all, in fact, we can’t be the cause of any of them before the current one. So why are liberals so afraid to talk about any of them? Because it would undermine their case. They want people to think this hasn’t happened before. They’re wrong and, as I talked about back in the section on Death Panels, they’re not interested in presenting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth because nobody would fall for their rhetoric so they carefully craft what they talk about and what they do not and that’s just blatantly dishonest.
The problem is, everyone is dishonest, both the left and the right, the liberals and the neo-cons, the Democrats and the Republicans. You can’t trust either side because both of them have an agenda. Both of them have something they want you to believe and that something isn’t the truth. It’s their version of the truth. They want to use their version of the truth to assure your compliance and your support and your money. Don’t listen to either of them. Seek out the facts yourself. It’s the only way to really find reality.