Pandering to the lizard brain: American media versus objective reality

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Problem is, what the hell do we do about it?


in some seriousness:


Another excellent read from Taibbi, but I have a much simpler version: Because he(trump) is telling those people what they want to hear, something that agrees with their opinions and beliefs. It’s the same reason people read USUncut or Brietbart and take them entirely seriously, despite both being utter, utter garbage, and frankly as delusional and loose with the truth as Trump is.

It’s the same reason people believe Bernie Sanders is secretly a Nazi (because it plays into popular ideas among the right about left-wing authoritarianism) or that Bernie’s getting a raw deal because Time-Warner are big donors to Hillary’s campaign(They’re not, according to FEC filings, and also people don’t quite understand how political donations work), or that Abortion clinics sell baby parts, or that the media didn’t cover something(almost invariably untrue), absurd media conspiracy theories(which are generally delusional, invariably untrue, and all born of complete media illiteracy) or that Colleges are too PC, or that homeopathy works and vaccination doesn’t, or whatever the fuck else under the sun you can think of.

It doesn’t matter how absurd, untrue, or outright delusional something is upon examination - as long as it agrees at first glance with what people already thought or believed, they’ll swallow it. Shit, they won’t just swallow it, they’ll even repeat it to other people, and defend it. Not limited to stupid people either - Smart, dumb, the biggest difference on that front is just the size of the words they use to defend it.


By coincidence I listened to an old podcast of You Are Not So Smart earlier today, wherein Dan Simons discusses the fallibility of memory with Julia Shaw, who as part of her research successfully implanted false memories into adults of crimes they supposedly committed as adolescents. The main thrust of her research was into how innocent people can confess to crimes they never committed, but it seems clear to me that the political-media machine has similar techniques of its own to implant false memories into the general public’s group mind, which Trump is taking advantage of.



But as anyone who recognizes me around here can tell you, far be it from me to say in ten words what I can say in two hundred.


Well, what you expressed is more than just confirmation bias. There’s several pitfalls of cognitive heuristics there, including the Availability Bias, and avoidance of Cognitive Dissonance.


I do wish the “lizard brain” meme would find a place to die. Inasmuch as a part of the human brain can be called “lizard brain,” it’s not the part that reads newspapers. It’s the part that regulates breathing and heartbeat. It does the things lizards can do. It’s almost as tired as right-brain-left-brain.


The great irony here is that a lot of liberals will also watch Fox News or listen to AM radio conservative blowhards because there is a weird thrill to it, “I can’t believe they’re saying this crap, and people believe it!”


I have been talking about this issue lately. I am angry about it. And the liberal side is just as bad as the right wing side for spewing half truths and outright lies. Here’s two that I noticed recently:

  1. The Big Story about how Ben Carson lied about having a scholarship to West Point. There is a pretty good explanation of this and the story was way overblown.

  2. A story that went around about some supporters at a Trump rally beating the living shit out of a black guy. Video footage shows it to be a mild scuffle where it looks like people are just trying to remove the guy from their rally, certainly not the violent bloodbath the headlines were touting.

I am not a right wing supporter but I am TIRED of news that doesn’t even attempt to fact check or reach some objective truth.


I have run tests with friends where I ask them what they think about a controversial issue in current events, they often tell me an opinion that differs from their own political party. Then later after they find out what their political party thinks, they will switch their opinion to match their party. It is sad, and it happens with my friends who are Democrats and who are Republicans.



Americans are moving more in the direction of living in bubbles where we don’t ever have to consider opposing points of view. Much more so in Internet fora than in the face to face world.

This happens both on rightwing sites like Free Republic and leftwing sites like BoingBoing.

Look at all the posts here to the effect of “Fox News is always ranting about …” when you know damn well that the poster has never listened to one minute of FNC in their life.

Personally I take a little pride in the fact that I’ve been banned or suspended from sites on both sides of the fence.


See also: refusal to use the T word in describing a man travelling across the country to kill people as an act of political intimidation.


Since you are objective, where are these posts?


And well you should!

Of course, you’ll be far more effective in challenging the meme-chanting followers of any particular site’s orthodoxy if you can manage not to be banned or censored.


This is what he’s referring to:

That’s pretty good, but I’d be more impressed if you’d been promoted to a mod on both sides.


Okay, but there actually was a faked video that was played on Fox News, right? I mean, I can find it on the Fox News website. I’m a little loath to give the link, but it was the second hit on my google search for “fake video of murdering babies fox news”. I mean, if people were always going on on this site about “those things” Fox News says without ever finding out what Fox News says I could understand being critical of that. But to cite a specific example of Fox News editing video together to present fiction as truth that really happened seems like fair game, even if you haven’t watched the video yourself.

I get a little tired of people presenting the idea that there is a rational middle between two extremes. Just as often as there is a rational middle, one of the two extremes is just plain correct. I don’t want to have a balanced view of evolution vs. creation, or a balanced view of the world ending on Dec 13 vs. it not ending on that date. I don’t need to have a balanced view of whether planned parenthood is killing babies for the purpose of selling their body parts, nor am I wrong to criticize Fox News for running a story with the title, “Planned Parenthood sells dead baby body parts.”

I also tire of the idea that somehow unpopular opinions are silenced around here, an idea that is somehow sometimes presented by the majority voice. “You guys are just as bad” is a tiring refrain. And bringing out getting suspended like it was a badge of honor is ridiculous. How hard is it to get suspended? Pick an editor and start claiming to have proof they are child pornographer. Banned in a heartbeat.