WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
Many beliefs "don't make sense:" What did the late Herman Cain believe when he went to Trump's Tulsa event?
Trump's Tulsa event was held indoors. Herman Cain wasn't wearing a mask, and he wasn't "social distancing." In the weeks which followed the Tulsa event, he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and he died.
No one knows where and how Cain contracted the virus. But what in the world was Herman Cain thinking—what in the world did he think or believe—when he decided to go to the Tulsa event?
There's no way to answer your thoughtful question. But Cain was hardly alone.
In fairness, most Trump supporters had enough sense to stay away from the Tulsa event. The sparse attendance was an embarrassment to the Trump campaign.
That said, thousands of people did show up, and we know that at least one attendee has died. Meanwhile, attendees had to sign a waiver pledging that they wouldn't sue the commander-in-chief if they contracted Covid-9 at his Tulsa event.
The commander didn't mingle with the masses at the Tulsa event. What in the world were those people thinking when they went to this event?
Last week, Jim Acosta, CNN's "big galoot," finally did the right thing. Breaking every rule in the book, he asked at least three (3) Trump supporters why they went to a recent Trump rally without the help of a mask.
The rally was held up in Michigan. To review the answers the three people gave, you can visit Monday's report—but the second respondent said this:
ACOSTA: Sir, please tell me. Why are you not wearing a mask?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there's no Covid. It's a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.
ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, the coronavirus, and it is deadly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his opinion. The truth is, is that CDC said only 10,000 people die from Covid. The other 192,000 have 2.6 or 2.8 other mortalities.
In our view, that man is in the grip of several mistaken beliefs.
Last Thursday night, Don Lemon played the videotape of Acosta's three interviews. After the exchanges were aired, Lemon and his incredulous guests worked through their standard progressions.
"I don't really get it," Lemon said, puzzled by a respondent who said he was putting his faith in the Lord. A bit later, he angrily moralized:
LEMON (9/10/20): Kirsten, I'm going to get to you, but I wonder if I should get—bring my family out of a hot spot there in Louisiana to have a life, because they have a life.
Guess what? We social distance. We wear masks and we keep moving. But my mom has been trapped in the house since March. And it's heartbreaking, because there are these people, like these folks right here, who don't care about anybody but themselves.
Jim Acosta's three respondents "don't care about anybody but themselves?" Which part of "I think the pandemic is fake" didn't this cable news star understand?
Finally, Lemon threw to Kirsten Powers. In our view, Powers has long been sharper than the average cable news bear.
Powers didn't get it either. To her, none of it made any sense:
LEMON: [Trump's] not downplaying the virus. He's pretending the pandemic is over.
POWERS: Yes. I mean, and this, it's really—it is a tragedy on so many levels, but it is particularly sad to watch these people who believe him.
And, you know, it was interesting listening to that man who said, "The good Lord is going to protect me, and I have to go on with my life."
I've heard some version of this from various Trump supporters. And yet, when the caravan is coming, allegedly, the good Lord is not going to protect them. When antifa is coming, the good Lord is not going to protect them, right? None of it makes sense.
Trump does seem to be spreading the notion that the pandemic is pretty much over.
In our view, it is sad, or something like it, to watch the various people who believe Trump's various claims. That said, none of Acosta's three respondents stated that particular point as a part of their answer.
Powers then described a logical contradiction for which she could cite no specific example. But she was certainly right on one score:
The things we humans say and believe quite frequently don't make sense. Indeed, that has been true for a very long time within the American discourse.
Vast amounts of our modern discourse have been driven by false or mistaken belief. Examples:
Was Barack Obama born in Kenya? It seems rather clear that he wasn't, but millions of people seemed to believe that he actually was. With Greta Van Susteren serving as his caddy, Donald J. Trump pimped that notion on Fox for years.
Is the theory of climate change really a hoax? Is it a hoax invented by the Chinese? We'd score those as mistaken beliefs. But Trump and others have pushed such claims, and many people believe them.
Indeed, the second of Acosta's three respondents said he believes that Covid-19 is itself a hoax! He seems to be taking his beliefs from the lunatic QAnon crowd.
In the politics of the past three or four decades, many false and mistaken beliefs have come from sources on the right. But other false and mistaken beliefs have come from the mainstream press:
Did Al Gore said he invented the Internet? Do we "now know" that Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth all along?
These claims were pushed by upper-end stars at the New York Times and the Washington Post. Many people believed those claims. We'd score them as false beliefs.
(As first lady, did Hillary Clinton engage in seances? That came from top journalists too!)
Our world is clogged with mistaken belief which arrives from the right. That said, our own self-impressed liberal/progressive tribe is rich with false belief too.
Anthropologists have explained all this, though they've only done so in the future. They've said that we humans are really "the tribal animal." We're the animal which invents and repeats pleasing tribal tales.
These experts say that our own liberal tribe is currently sunk in false, mistaken and extremely shaky belief. They say that people in the other tribe can sometimes see this about our tribe, but that we ourselves pretty much can't.
They say that we (self-described) humans are wired that way. It's the way things have always been.
What happens when we humans try to create true belief? Tomorrow, we'll look in on two New York Times stars as they try to handle some data. On Friday, we'll take you to the origin point of the modern liberal framework:
It all began with a flat misstatement in the New York Times. On line, to this very day, the misstatement stands uncorrected!
Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, a collection of highly credentialed scholars, report to us from the future through the mysterious nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams. These despondent experts moan about our own tribe's current conduct.
On Friday, we'll start sharing their claims. It all began in the Times, they insist, as weeping is heard in their caves.
Tomorrow: Douthat and Leonhardt tried