What if the News Reported Only Facts?

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The common view we see from the mainstream media is that President Trump is a monster and there is no doubt about it. In support of that view, they offer plenty of evidence. And by evidence, I mean they hallucinate they can read minds.

Pundit creates news by reading minds

One of the biggest illusions of life is that we humans are good at deducing the inner thoughts of both strangers and loved ones based on observing their actions. The truth is that we are terrible at knowing what others are thinking. We just think we are good at it. No one is good at it. No one.

Need proof of that claim?

Think about the last disagreement you had with a romantic partner. There’s a high likelihood that one of you was incorrectly interpreting the thoughts of the other. And a big cause of that wrongness is the illusion that people make decisions based on one variable. We don’t. Our decisions are based on lots of variables — so many, in fact, that often we are not entirely aware of why we make our own decisions, much less why others do.

The business model of the news media has moved away from hard reporting and toward punditry and opinion. Viewers enjoy opinion-driven content and it costs a lot less to produce than hard news. And that means the news industry has moved from factual reporting to — for all practical purposes — some form of imaginary mind reading to fill the hours.

I’ll need some examples to make my point. Below I will imagine how several headline stories about President Trump could have been reported factually without the mind reading. I include the mind reading interpretations for contrast.

Birtherism

  • Factual Report: Donald Trump exploited doubts within the Republican base about President Obama’s birth certificate to gain a political advantage. This is a common political tactic. Candidate Trump used the same strategy against Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada but is an American citizen.
  • Mind Reading: We can read Trump’s inner racist mind and we know the real reason he was involved with birtherism is to send a silent dog whistle to the racists in the Republican party.

Some illegal Mexican immigrants are criminals and some are not

  • Factual Report: Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President with a speech in which he noted that some illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals.
  • Mind Reading: Candidate Trump secretly believes all Mexicans are rapists. We know that to be true because he said “some” illegal immigrants from Mexico he assumes are “good people.” That is a clear sign that he is thinking no one from Mexico is a good person, even though “some” is not an indication of percentage.

Charlottesville

  • Factual Report: President Trump said there were “fine people” on both sides of the Charlottesville protests. When asked to clarify if that meant the racists with tiki torches were fine people, the President clarified that he disavowed that group and was talking about non-racists who might have been there to support keeping historical Civil War statues that many believe are offensive.
  • Mind Reading: Even though President Trump clarified that he disavows the racists, we can read his inner thoughts and it is clear he thinks racists are fine people because he knows he is one.

KKK Disavowal

  • Factual Report: In a CNN interview with Jake Tapper, candidate Trump did not take the opportunity Tapper repeatedly gave him to denounce the KKK and David Duke. President Trump said he had some audio problems and didn’t hear the question properly. He clarified the next day that he does disavow the KKK and David Duke, as he has several times in the past.
  • Mind Reading: President Trump is secretly fond of the KKK and David Duke and was sending a secret dog whistle to racists. That’s why he refused to disavow them until he was badgered into it. But his disavowals were dishonest because he secretly supports them.

Judge Curiel

  • Factual Report: Candidate Trump employed a common legal strategy by questioning the objectivity of the judge for the Trump University trial. The strategy was a solid one because it biased the judge to rule favorably for Trump to avoid the appearance of bias. As it turned out, the judge scheduled the trial for after the election, which was unnecessarily generous to Trump. A more normal schedule would have put the trial before election. The potential bias Trump called out was that because of his immigration plan, Trump was deeply unpopular with Americans of Mexican heritage. Lawyers routinely consider that sort of potential bias.
  • Mind Reading: Trump is racist against people with Mexican heritage and believes they can’t be good judges.

Shithole Countries

  • Factual Reporting: In a non-public meeting with other politicians, President Trump used strong language (shithole countries) to question why our immigration policies allow in so many people from economically disadvantaged countries instead of economically advanced countries such as Norway.
  • Mind Reading: President Trump called black and brown countries “shitholes” because he is a racist.

My interpretation of what we all have watched for the past two-and-a-half years is that the anti-Trump media created the “monster” version of Trump based on mind-reading punditry. Factual reporting would not have created that impression in the public’s mind. The public had to be primed, and it had to be reminded every day by the mind-reading pundits that Trump was a monster.

The mind-reading pundits have done a horrible disservice to the country, although I suspect most were operating under the illusion they can accurately read the mind of strangers. And in one of the most successful persuasion plays in history, the anti-Trump media pinned the blame for rising racial tensions on Trump. To be fair, he made it easy. Even I graded him an F in race relations. But not because I can read his mind. I just think he could have done a lot more to persuade-away the Trump-monster illusion created by his detractors.

I started a Patreon account to fund — via micro-donations as low as one dollar — the expansion of my Periscope content on the topic of persuasion, usually about politics. Step One involves converting my Periscope videos into audio-only podcast form for greater reach. That work is in progress. I’ll work on topic indexes next, and perhaps topic summaries in text form. YouTube is a lower priority because fans already post my Periscopes there. At some point I might do that myself.

Patreon funding will motivate me to express my opinions as often as practical without worrying about the sensibilities of sponsors, advertisers, or corporate bosses. I appreciate all of you who are making this happen.

The post What if the News Reported Only Facts? appeared first on Dilbert Blog.

The Charlottesville Fake News Was the Best Persuasion Play of the Past Year

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Now that some time has passed, and emotions have subsided a bit, I can tell you about the best persuasion play of the past year. The credit goes to the anti-Trump media. They convinced much of the world that the President of the United States referred to a bunch of racists with tiki torches in Charlottesville as “fine people.”

What President Trump did say is that some “fine people” were at the event. I see only two ways to interpret that statement. One interpretation is completely ordinary and the other is batshit crazy. The batshit crazy interpretation is the one the anti-Trump media persuaded you is the real one. They would have you believe that the President of the United States publicly and unabashedly sided with self-labelled racists who were chanting anti-Jewish slogans. We are asked to believe President Trump took sides with the anti-semitic chanters despite having a Jewish daughter, Jewish grandkids, Jewish son-in-law, and several Jewish top advisors. We also know President Trump is so popular in Israel that they are considering naming a train station after him. And Netanyahu gets along with President Trump great. Probably has something to do with President Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Amazingly, the anti-Trump media successfully persuaded half the public in this country that President Trump intentionally and publicly took sides with racists who have intense hatred for his family and close advisors. President Trump clarified soon after his first statement on Charlottesville that he disavowed the racists. But the haters didn’t believe it. They were locked in their hallucination bubble.

Let’s compare two interpretations of President Trump’s “fine people” statement.

Batshit Crazy Interpretation: President Trump is so dumb, and so racist, that he decided to publicly side with racists against his own family and his closest advisors. And yet, while being so dumb, he somehow succeeded in multiple fields and became President of the United States with no prior experience. This interpretation also requires that Israel, his family, and his closest advisors are so dumb that they haven’t noticed how racist President Trump is against them.

or…

Totally Ordinary Interpretation: President Trump assumed there were some non-racist Republicans at the event for their own reasons, such as supporting historical landmarks, or supporting free speech no matter how awful it is. And he was right, although there were not many of them. Here’s a clip of some “fine people” who were in attendance. They say they like free speech and they hate racists.

We all know President Trump has a track record of speaking out on a variety of topics without having all the details. That’s one of the few things that both his supporters and his detractors can agree on. So compare the hypothesis that he decided to side with racists against the interests of his own family, in public, while President, to the hypothesis that he thought (correctly) that some non-racist Republicans were also in attendance.

Which of those two versions of events seems most likely to you?

Is it even close?

Man tries to distinguish an apple from a banana and fails

I don’t blame the public for falling for this well-orchestrated persuasion scheme by the anti-Trump media. Their collective persuasion on this point has been solid. Lately, the people opposing Trump simply list Charlottesville as one of the many “proofs” of his racism, as if no further explanation is needed. I can’t tell if the pundits believe their own interpretations or if they simply think the public will. It would look the same.

I propose a test to see if anti-Trump news professionals and pundits who consider Charlottesville as proof of President Trump’s racism will commit to their positions in public. You can test this at home with your Trump-hating friends. Simply print out my blog post and ask them to read the two interpretations I listed and ask them to tell you which one seems most likely. If your subject tries to change the topic, you have your answer.

I predict that 100% of people who believe President Trump called racists “fine people” will change the subject as soon as you make them read the two competing interpretations of events in close proximity. That’s your tell.

And if you want to rub it in, ask your Trump-hating subjects if they believe President Trump would NOT have pursued the birther issue against a white opponent if the opportunity had been the same. Remind your subject that President Trump uses every weapon available to him, all the time, no matter what. He not only accused Ted Cruz of being born in Canada but he suggested Cruz’ father might have been in on assassinating Kennedy.

I tested the birther argument today on Twitter when a critic brought it up. He changed the subject.

Enjoy!

I started a Patreon account to fund — via micro-donations as low as one dollar — the expansion of my Periscope content on the topic of persuasion, usually about politics. Step One involves converting my Periscope videos into audio-only podcast form for greater reach. That work is in progress. I’ll work on topic indexes next, and perhaps topic summaries in text form. YouTube is a lower priority because fans already post my Periscopes there. At some point I might do that myself.

Patreon funding will motivate me to express my opinions as often as practical without worrying about the sensibilities of sponsors, advertisers, or corporate bosses. I appreciate all of you who are making this happen.

The post The Charlottesville Fake News Was the Best Persuasion Play of the Past Year appeared first on Dilbert Blog.