Is there any point arguing with Trump supporters? Sadly, probably not.

Posted: October 4, 2016 in Political musings, Popular Culture et al, Science
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

trump san joseAre you in the group that says, of Donald Trump, “How can people even consider voting for that dreadful man?”

Well, we found the following article on Addicting Info, and we reproduce it in full. It should be read very carefully by anyone with the wit and critical faculty to understand the point it is making. It should specifically be sent to or read to any apparently sane person who is considering voting for him.

In our view, a tiny minority of Trump supporters are deliberately – consciously, ruthlessly – supporting his rabble-rousing rubbish because they genuinely believe in the inevitable result of what he stands for. In pursuit of their goals, they believe it’s OK to lie about virtually everything that matters and to terrify part of the population with nonsense. They believe it’s OK to be nakedly racist. They believe it’s OK to mangle the language until what comes out of your mouth means nothing. They believe it’s OK to wonder aloud why it’s not OK to use nuclear weapons. They believe it’s OK to be repeatedly loathsome about women. They believe climate change is a Chinese hoax. And that it’s OK to claim to be a successful businessman when you lose nearly a billion dollars in just one year. And that it’s just good business smarts not to pay any tax.

Why do they believe all this is acceptable? They believe this is acceptable because they are fanatically convinced that the entire panoply of government in the United States should be dismantled to pay for a new low-tax, low-government model that would transform America into an unrecognisable shadow of its former self.

And so they bite their tongue, swallow their distaste at their manic buffoon of a candidate, and pretend that Trump is a serious candidate who just exhibits a sort of folksy aw shucks anti-politics hucksterism which is essentially harmless. They know they’re lying, but they think they can control him if he gets to the White House, so they don’t care.

trump__clintonAnd before anyone says “But Hillary is a flawed candidate, too!” Yes. Yes, she is. We are not especially enthusiastic about her, and haven’t been since she showed herself to be tone deaf over healthcare reform in her husband’s first Presidency.

She’s very conservative. She’s an American interventionist. She has a moderate, at best, record in public service. (In terms of results. Her effort cannot be faulted.) And she has undoubtedly made some egregious mis-steps. Unlike Trump, though, she doesn’t bluster her way through them. She admits them, as she has with the “private email server” nonsense.

But there really is no comparison between her and Trump. Clinton is flawed, and a machine politician, but most of the accusations levelled against her are just that – accusations. Despite years of trying, for example, no one has managed to actually produce any evidence, whatsoever, of any wrongdoing or criminal lack of care over the murderous attack on Americans in Benghazi.

But Trump, conversely, is actively seeking to undermine the democratic process by trivialising the whole concept of policy, cheerfully promoting various ideas that are nakedly neo-Nazi in their formulation, and which represents the very worst in bigotry and terrifying irresponsibility that we have ever seen in a “mainstream” political context in America.

So apart from the cold-hearted realpolitik intellectuals and apparatchiks who support him, why does everyone else?

Unpleasant though it is to assert such a thing, it may well be that they are simply that they are too stupid to understand what’s going on.

We were roundly criticised recently by a good friend of a different political persuasion for “daring” to call the mass of Trump supporters “morons”. That criticism is a badge we wear with pride. The stakes are just too high to be mealy-mouthed on the issue.

In our considered view, unless they are disingenuously using him as a stalking horse for a thoroughly hateful agenda, no one with an ounce of discretion or clarity of thought could support this dangerous fool.

Yet they are. And now, we might have a perfectly clear explanation of why.

angry-trump-supportersJust as millions of people who voted for Brexit suddenly realised after the referendum that it wasn’t all a game, it wasn’t all about delivering a kick to the Establishment, and now they would have to leave the EU – and many promptly changed their minds, except there was and is no “get out” clause from the result of vote – so millions will vote for Trump and if, by some congruence of political streams they actually managed to get him elected (which is still very unlikely), they will rapidly realise they were conned, as their benefits are slashed, their schools and roads go un-repaired, the world shuns America, the race relations situation spirals downwards (possibly beyond control), and the country is continually riven by myriad divisions. And the response to the mounting chaos will, of course, be ever more authoritarian government.

And in the blink of an eye, America democracy may well be gone, replaced by something with the trappings of democracy, but without the control of the people. Because when facts don’t matter, anything can be said to be true and right. Exactly what so many of Trump’s supporters say they are railing against.

Turkeys voting for Christmas.

This article explains why. Trump-Bots are not amenable to rational dispute, because they have convinced themselves they know better. Based on … nothing at all.

What to do about this distressing state of affairs? Distasteful as some may find the proposal, the solution lies in convincing everyone with a modicum of intelligence to vote for Clinton. Because – much as the Libertarian candidate or the Green candidate may have their appeal – she is now the only person who can stop this. People with the wit and wisdom to perceive the danger simply have to hold their nose and support Clinton, even whilst they perceive her weaknesses, and hope like hell she turns out to be a decent President.

The alternative is not unthinkable. It is all too thinkable. And here is why:

”Are Trump Supporters Too Dumb To Know They’re Dumb? Science Says “Probably”

How the hell can anybody call themselves intelligent when they’re supporting Donald Trump? It’s a question that baffles people who are able to think critically, able to read and comprehend both history and current events, and able to see through Trump’s thin façade of know-it-all-ism and deep into what he is – an ignorant, narcissistic, and dangerous conman.

Says a supporter of a man who has filed for bankruptcy four times since 1991.

Says a supporter of a man who has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection four times since 1991. When questioned on it by Republican opposition during the primaries, Trump replied “”Hundreds of companies” have filed for bankruptcy, “I used the law four times and made a tremendous thing. I’m in business. I did a very good job.”

Trump supporters not only don’t see this, they’re happy that there’s someone running for president that thinks exactly like them. Take Melanie Austin, of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. She thought her beliefs about Obama being a gay Muslim from Kenya and Michelle being transgender were just fringe beliefs – right up until she started hearing similar stuff from Trump and other right-wing extremists.

Now she knows she’s right about all of this. You can’t tell her that she’s ignorant and dumb if she can’t figure this out for herself. You can’t tell her she’s delusional. You can sit there with her, and countless others like her, and present facts, figures, charts, studies, and more, all from the most reputable sources there are, and prove that her lord and saviour is wrong, and you’ll still get shot down.

There’s more to this than the problem of confirmation bias. Austin gets much of her information from fringe right-wing blogs and conspiracy sites, but that’s not all of it. Many of Trump’s supporters are seriously too dumb to know they’re dumb. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and it’s an unshakeable illusion that you’re much smarter, and more skilled and/or knowledgeable, than you really are.

People like Austin labor under the illusion that their knowledge about things is at least as good as, if not better than, the actual facts. For these people, though, their knowledge isn’t just superior – it’s superior even to those who have intimate and detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. Trump himself has exemplified this countless times, such as when he claimed he knows more about ISISthan even our military generals do.

His fans simply take his word for it, and believe that because he knows, they know. They are literally incapable of seeing that they don’t know.

To be sure, the Dunning-Kruger effect is present everyone all across the political spectrum, and indeed, in every walk of life. We all overestimate our abilities and knowledge somewhere.However, the effect is especially pronounced in people with limited intellectual and social skills:

“People who are unskilled in [intellectual and social domains] suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realise it.”

bertrand-russell-dunning-kruger-effectSo basically, yes, it’s possible to be too dumb to realise you’re dumb.

In four separate studies, people who scored in the bottom quarter on tests involving everything from humour to logic, and even to grammar, grossly overestimated where they thought they would score. They averaged scores in the 12th percentile, while their average estimate of their own scores was the 62nd percentile.

The researchers attribute that huge discrepancy to a literal inability to distinguish accuracy from error. Or, to put it another way, those who are the most lacking in skills and knowledge are the least able to see it.

Take the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks in 1995 and was caught rather easily. He thought he would get away with it because he rubbed his face with lemon juice, which is used in invisible ink. To test the theory that lemon juice would turn him invisible, he rubbed it on his face, took a Polaroid, and his face wasn’t in the picture! So he thought he was safe from security cameras because he could make his face invisible.

He was shocked when police caught him because of that, saying, “But I wore the juice.” He literally couldn’t see the ridiculousness of that line of thought.

That seems like an extreme example, but if you look at the logic of Donald Trump and his supporters, that kind of incompetence is coming out in force. Look at his debate performance. He was woefully unprepared, while Hillary was eminently prepared, and he grew more frustrated, and ultimately furious and out-of-control, while she wiped the floor with him for most of the 95 minutes.

Yet later, with breathtaking chutzpah, he claimed he won, and so did his supporters. The hashtag #TrumpWon trended on Twitter, with many of his supporters and surrogates saying he had a very good performance, and put Hillary to shame. Anyone with more than two working brain cells could see otherwise, but all of these people couldn’t see their deity’s abject failure for what it was. And when the scientific polls came in after the debate, Hillary was shown to be the strong victor.

David Dunning, one of the first to catalog the Dunning-Kruger effect (hence its name), has studied human behaviour—including voter behaviour—for decades. He penned an op-ed in Politico that explains why this effect is so pronounced in Trump’s supporters:

“It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognise those gaffes as mis-steps.

Again, the key to the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not that unknowledgeable voters are uninformed; it is that they are often misinformed — their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.”

Trump is completely inept, and his supporters are way too poorly-informed to know that he’s inept, and too dumb themselves to know how dumb they are. That’s why Trump’s supporters are so sure they’re smart and their candidate is smart that they won’t listen to reason.

The effect is strong in these people.

Article ends …

We hasten to add, we don’t think less of those Trump supporters suffering from this affliction or look down our superior noses at them. No attempt has been made to address their lack of educated decision making by their own side of politics, or anyone. They have been wilfully led into believing things that are clearly not sustained by the facts. As a result, America has a huge (and very angry) mis-educated under-class that faithfully believes the nonsense that is shoved down its throat by both its opinion leaders and the media. Millions of Americans never leave their country, never access any media from overseas, and never hear any contrary arguments to address their prejudices. Facts become irrelevant. Only tribalism matters.

This is not a new phenomenon. Almost within living memory of the participants – certainly within living memory of their families – a terrible, bloody civil war was fought to defend racism and slavery, sold to millions in the Confederate States as a defence against a tyrannical central (and northern) Government and in favour of States’ rights. It wasn’t. It was a war to defend slavery and the economic advantage it conferred on slave owners.

When the world was plunged into a death struggle against fascism in 1939, millions of Americans blindly thought that their country should have nothing to do with it. The isolationism that represented extended the war by at least two years and led to millions of unnecessary deaths.

Decisions have consequences. And the world’s greatest democracy can do better. But it’s a long-term rectification project.

And in the meantime, Trump must be stopped. Must. Be. Stopped.

You can find another excellent article on this very frightening phenomenon here.

  1. simon says:

    totally agree – they are so blinded by binary political outcomes results that they don’t seem to have the ability to act or argue with reason. its almost laughable but sadly its been created over many years and now Putin is actively supporting Trump as he can see a kindred spirit …ready to fight…very scary times


  2. underwriiter505 says:

    AlterNet this week published a “parable” as they call it – “The Future History of the Two Human Races: A Parable” The link is at I have the feeling that we have already been there once – that the group that was less confrontational and more reasoning was the group we now refer to as Neanderthals, who were vanquished precisely because they were less aggressive than H Sapiens. And that the only reason any of us is here today is that some of those genes came down.

    What you are saying about Trump supporters being, in fact supporting him not in spite of his awfulness but because of it is of course accurate, and some of us here have been saying it for some time. But it is difficult for an intelligent person to grasp, I agree. One keeps forgetting.

    As a side note, have you ever noticed that white supremacists, who so loudly proclaim and defend the superiority of the white “race,” are as a group the most inferior people imaginable? I mean, I also find it a mystery how these people can think themselves superior because they are white.


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      I shall read that article with interest. Your point about racists is well made. Racism is the one think I will not permit in comments on this blog. You’d be surprised how they write and abuse me …


      • James Mahoney says:

        No, Yolly, we wouldn’t be surprised at all about the abuse heaped upon anyone who has the temerity to write what he thinks, and the integrity to do so under his own name and not a cybernom.

        Personally, I don’t think The Donald ever intended to actually be the candidate. I think he saw, and sees, the whole thing as great marketing for his brand and businesses. And I think he’s terrified that the wind he inadvertently created is now blowing him toward a possible, though unlikely, victory. That’s one plausible reason why he keeps trying to derail the thing.

        Of course, I may be completely wrong and too dumb to see the flaw in what I just wrote. He may actually be egomaniacal enough to think he can do the job and wants to. Only slightly less disturbing is the thought that Pence could be the proverbial heartbeat away…


        • Stephen Yolland says:

          I have seen it seriously suggested that Trump sees the entire exercise as a means to establish his own new right wing media empire now that Fox is in decline. No, seriously.


  3. carlalouise89 says:

    Reblogged this on Coalition of the Brave.


  4. mlshatto says:

    In previous election years I have been deeply disappointed by our choices of candidates. This is the first time in my five decades of voting that I have been truly frightened. I think there is another class of Trump supporters who are not described by the article you reprint. They are the ones who, though of average and even above-average intelligence, are so blinded by ideology that they refuse to see the danger of a Trump presidency. They are true believers in supply-side economics and free market conservatism, many of them are conservative Christian, and to them Clinton looks like the devil incarnate.

    There are also, beyond the white supremacists, the misogynists, the homophobes, and all those who fear “the other.” To my mind they are the scariest. A Clinton win will probably save us from the economic and diplomatic catastrophes that would be the sure legacy of a Trump presidency, but it will further fuel the forces of hatred that have been given voice and encouragement by his campaign. That genie will not easily be stuffed back into the bottle. If you are the praying sort, please pray for us. We need it.


  5. Paul says:

    Ha, just as the Remainers in the UK Brexit vote used the fear factor and have called those viting OUT, bigots, uneducated, racists etc etc.

    Guess what we voted ‘out’ and we’re leaving at a rapid pace whilst the liberal elite moan, cry and still throw abuse.

    I’m no big fan of Trump but at this current time I believe America needs a kick up the arse and I actually.believe it might just get it.

    Yolly, you stand for racists yet we have a Labour MP over here in the name of Diane Abbott who has openly accused the British people of being racists. You couldn’t make it up.


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      Paul, those who voted for Brexit were conned. Many are now deeply regretting it. As the article says, it’s not about giving politicians “a kick up the arse” – these things actually MATTER.

      And by the way, the last thing Britain will do is leave at a rapid pace. What will happen in the end is a compromise over free movement, a cobbled together trade deal, and all that will happen in reality is that Britain will have lost its place at the top table.

      I think you meant to write “Yolly, you stand against racists” – or I hope you do – and I have no particular flag to fly for Diane Abbott – but if you don’t think many of the United Kingdom population are nakedly racist (by no means all) then you’re living in cloud cuckoo land.


  6. Pat A says:

    Many thanks for this article from Addicting Info, and your comments – I agree with every word, and with every commenter (with the obvious exception of Paul’s comment). Thank you also for your remarks on Brexit, I agree with those too – and feel that those who voted for Brexit were indeed conned (but I still can’t understand how they fell for Farage’s lies in the first place) – but it is no surprise that Farage went to support Trump – two nasty little demagogues colluding together.

    I’ve seen it remarked before that racist (and other statements that appeal to the prejudice not the logical intelligence of the listener) go straight to the amygdala and bypass the frontal cortex where we do some of our best reasoning, and it appears to be true. If Trump is elected it will be a disaster for the entire world, and he will (on the basis of his own statements) probably start WWIII without having the least clue how it happened. God help us all.


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      Sadly Paul is one of those who was talked into supporting Brexit. As for Trump, share the article with anyone you know who is thinking of not supporting Clinton. He simply must be stopped.


      • Paul says:

        Conned, my arse. I don’t get conned into anything. I can’t speak for the millions of others who voted ‘out’ but the thing that cemented my decision and probably loads of others was the establishment, in all it’s forms ganging up and blatantly scare mongering. Sound familiar?


        • Stephen Yolland says:

          Nope. Sounds like what the people discussed in the article would say. There’s no point giving you facts. But just in case you’re not too far down the track, why not actually read the article?


          • Paul says:

            Sorry, after being told I’ve been conned, blined, bribed etc etc I wouldn’t give it the light of day. The liberal elite, including yourself should realise there’s a whole wide world out there who may, just may not agree with status quo.


            • Stephen Yolland says:

              You don’t want to know what’s in the article. That’s very sad. Because that’s exactly what the article says you’d say.


            • Stephen Yolland says:

              And if I asked you what you wanted to replace the “status quo” with, the truly sad thing is that you have absolutely no idea. You have no “better idea”. You simply rage against what you have convinced yourself is a conspiracy against you. If I do you a dis-service, Paul, then by all means articulate the alternative ideas you have – what you want to replace the “status quo” with. But forgive me if I don’t hold my breath, because I don’t think that you have a clue. By all means, prove me wrong.


            • Stephen Yolland says:

              The fact that you would criticise an article that you can’t even be bothered to read is tragic.


  7. Pat A says:

    “The fact that you would criticise an article that you can’t even be bothered to read is tragic. ”
    Amen, Yolly, Amen.


  8. Paul says:

    One view, not necessarily mine, is that, like Brexit, some people are frightened of change or even of their own shadows.
    You might ask “how on earth did the American people end up with the choice they now have to make, but is Their choice to make alone.
    Personaly I am pround to be English and looking forward to the future. The election in the USA will end in a result, just as Brexit did and


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