END-OF-YEAR MANIFESTATIONS: Onrushing cognitive capture!


Young Driver disappeared: Actually, no. 

As we noted last Friday, this actually isn't an accurate picture of what actually happened. And yes, it actually matters:

COBB (12/21/21): If you think about what ties [Kyle] Rittenhouse, [George] Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, and the death of Ahmaud Arbery together is that all three of these incidents involve people who were going out to protect property that was not theirs. So this is fundamentally about the idea that you can construe self-defense to mean anything. And you can proactively pursue people and still say you were defending yourself.

Actually, no! Kyle Rittenhouse wasn't pursuing Joseph Rosenbaum, the mentally ill man he shot and killed, on that unfortunate evening in Kenosha. As is perfectly clear from the videotape and as everyone testified, Rosenbaum—and yes, this unfortunate man was mentally ill—had been chasing Rittenhouse through Kenosha's streets.

Unfortunately, there's more! It isn't clear that George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin at the time their paths finally crossed, and a fatal fight occurred, on that earlier unfortunate night.

In that earlier instance, it isn't clear who may have been pursuing who, and it likely never will be. But our tribe has a story we very much like, and it's fairly clear that nothing is ever going to stop us from telling it.

While we're at it, when did "protecting property that is not [one's own]" turn into something that's morally suspect or wrong? We don't know when that presumption took hold, but it strikes us as unfounded, peculiar, strange.

Professor Cobb is a good, decent person. For that reason, his presentation on last Tuesday night's All In strikes us as an example of "cognitive capture." 

What he seemed to be saying just doesn't seem to be accurate. And three hours later, as we noted last Friday, Ali Velshi chipped in with this mandated groaner as he hosted The Eleventh Hour:

VELSHI (12/21/21): You'd be forgiven for assuming that what you just saw here was some kind of WrestleMania introduction. That [videotape] was yesterday's carefully staged and overly elaborate introduction at an event for ultra-conservative young people for none other than Kyle Rittenhouse, the then 17-year-old who shot and killed two people and wounded a third last summer at a Black Lives Matter protest after crossing state lines with an AR-15 that was not obtained legally.

In an obvious instance of "cognitive capture," Velshi repeated the standard non sequitur in which Rittenhouse is said to have "crossed state lines" on his way to Kenosha. 

For the record, Rittenhouse wasn't actually transporting that gun when he "crossed state lines;" the gun was already in Kenosha. But that's a minor factual error, joined in this instance to the utterly irrelevant, braindead claim about "crossing state lines" our tribunes insist on reciting.

Velshi and Cobb are good, decent people. On the other hand, because they're also very smart, we feel we should tell you this:

When people misstate in the way Cobb did, you should be careful about taking anything else they ever say at anything like face value. 

You see, "cognitive capture" is a fact, and our tribe is sick with the illness. We expect to discuss this concept at the start of the new year. For today, we'll limit ourselves to teasing one more example.

This example is drawn from the way our tribe's major news orgs have covered the shooting death of Daunte Wright and the subsequent trial of Kim Potter. For today, we're going to mention a name you don't know:

The name is Emajay Driver.

Driver has been mentioned several times as the New York Times has reported, or has perhaps pretended to report, this unfortunate topic. In print editions, the first citation occurred on April 14, in the Times' news report about an unfortunate event—the funeral of Daunte Wright:

MARTINEZ AND SANDOVAL (4/14/21): Before Sunday, Mr. Wright had been a young Black man unknown to the world, but known and loved by his friends and relatives in the Minneapolis area. He was a young father of a toddler who was almost 2, Daunte Jr. He loved basketball. As a freshman at Thomas Edison High School, he was voted a “class clown.”


Mr. Wright attended Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis in 2018, said the school principal, Yusuf Abdullah.

“He was just like any other kid,” Mr. Abdullah said.

He had also attended Edison High School in Minneapolis, where he was voted class clown as a freshman, according to the school’s 2015-16 yearbook.

“He loved to make people laugh,” said Emajay Driver, a friend of Mr. Wright. “He was just great to be around. There was never a dull moment.”


Mario Greer, a cousin, said Mr. Wright was also a sensitive soul who enjoyed lighting Roman candles with him.

That was the New York Times' first mention of Driver. In the paper's December 2 print edition, young Driver was mentioned again:

BOGEL-BURROUGHS (12/2/21): Many who knew Mr. Wright have said he was a man who had made mistakes but had been improving his life.

A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school in Minneapolis, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.

In the eulogy at Mr. Wright’s funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Mr. Wright the “prince of Brooklyn Center” and said the police had not known how many lives Mr. Wright brightened.

On this occasion, Bogel-Burroughs recalled a bit of what Sharpton said in April's eulogy. The police had not known how many lives Wright had brightened, Sharpton had said at that time.

Six days later, Bogel-Burroughs cited Driver again. This citation appeared in a brief online post which bore the headline, "Who Was Daune Wright?" 

This brief post only appeared online; it never appeared in print. Bogel-Burroughs quoted Driver again—and he went into more detail from Sharpton's eulogy:

BOGEL-BURROUGHS (12/8/21): Many who knew Mr. Wright have acknowledged that he had made mistakes but had been trying to improve his life for his son.

A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.

Delivering a eulogy at the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he was told that Minneapolis had not seen a funeral procession so large since Prince, the musician who was born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.

“You thought he was just some kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said at Mr. Wright’s funeral, referring to the air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which prosecutors said was one reason that the police stopped Mr. Wright’s car. Mr. Sharpton added: “He was a prince, and all of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center.”

Within our captured tribe, that air freshener has never stopped being useful. At any rate, Wright had been "the prince of Brooklyn Center," Sharpton had said.

Also, there had never been a dull moment. "He loved to make people laugh," Driver had said.

(Last Thursday, John Heileman read those excerpts from Sharpton's eulogy at the start of Deadline White House, which he was guest-hosting. In this way, people like Heileman reinforce our mandated Storylines.)

Emajay Drive is a young person. So was Daunte Wright. He was only 20 years old when he was shot and killed.

That said, reporters and editors at the Times are often somewhat older. Reasonable people may assume that they exercise appropriate journalistic judgment as they report on such important events and topics.

We may assume that high-end journalists exercise sound judgment. By way of contrast, it seems to us that the Times' citations of Driver—and the paper's reporting of this case overall—have been prime examples of the syndrome known as "cognitive capture."

Let's be much too fair! On two occasions—in that December 2 print report, and in that brief post on December 8—the Times finally described, if only in passing, a few of the "mistakes" Wright may have made in his young life.

Many young people make lots of mistakes. People might hope for better performance from experienced journalists.

That said, it seems to us that the New York Times increasingly exists in a state of "cognitive capture." In our view, its cheerful references to Driver's statements can perhaps be viewed in this light.

Alas! The New York Times now lives in a world where it is considered morally suspect to seek to protect property which isn't one's own. Also, in a world where highly regarded professors and journalists—high-IQ people like Velshi and Cobb—will routinely go on the air and say things which are flatly untrue or grossly misleading.

Our tribe has badly lost its way. In that way, Our tribe is a great deal like Theirs.

We plan to try to lay that out at the start of the new year. For the rest of this week, we plan to visit some intriguing manifestations as the dying year reaches its end.

Today, we'll make one last point:

Emajay Driver is a young person. We aren't inclined to go around trashing young people, especially those who may have been forced to grow up in challenging surroundings.

That said, people in the conservative world know much about Driver (and about Wright) than we liberals do. All the way back in April, a high school senior in Arizona was describing some basic facts of this case in her high school newspaper!

She reported the facts in a slightly jumbled way; we'd be inclined to disagree with the opinions she hotly stated. But even way back then, this high school journalist reported (relevant) facts to which readers of the New York Times have never been exposed! 

(For a clearer statement of those facts, mixed with a comically biased framework, see this report by Snopes.com from that very same week.)

Alas! This is one of the many cases in which people who follow conservative media may actually know much more than we porridge-fed liberals do. It's so bad that, if you can ignore her insulting conceptual frameworks, Ann Coulter has basically gotten it right concerning the work of the Times!

Our floundering tribe is deeply sunk in a version of cognitive capture. We've been sinking in this quicksand for roughly a decade now. 

No one's interests are well served by this remarkable state of affairs. It's also pure anthropology—anthropology all the way down.

Coming this week: Oliver Stone; the Genghis Gutfeld; that public school librarian in D.C.; Kurt Godel cited again?

The old and new West Side Story—who knows? So many intriguing manifestations, so little available time!


  1. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has boasted about being unvaccinated against Covid-19, owns stock in three major vaccine makers, Insider reports.

  2. "Actually, no! Kyle Rittenhouse wasn't pursuing Joseph Rosenbaum, the mentally ill man he shot and killed, on that unfortunate evening in Kenosha. As is perfectly clear from the videotape and as everyone testified, Rosenbaum—and yes, this unfortunate man was mentally ill—had been chasing Rittenhouse through Kenosha's streets."

    This is only true if you look at one piece of video immediately before Rosenbaum was shot. If you look at the larger picture of Rittenhouse's interaction with Rosenbaum during that day, Somerby's statement is not true. It is, once again, the difference between being strictly literal and narrowly focused and seeing the big picture (something Somerby rarely does and may be unable to do).

    Brady anti-gun violence campaign gets another donation today.

  3. "In an obvious instance of "cognitive capture," "

    If this translates from Liberal to English as "an obvious instance of lying dembot assholery", then we wholeheartedly agree, dear Bob.

  4. "Unfortunately, there's more! It isn't clear that George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin at the time their paths finally crossed, and a fatal fight occurred, on that earlier unfortunate night."

    Yes, it is clear. Zimmerman stalked him as he walked through the development, by his own admission. When he called the cops, they told him to stay in his car. But he didn't do that. He instead got out and confronted Martin. We do not know the details of that confrontation, but we do know that Zimmerman got out of his car. That is obvious from the facts of where he was when he shot Martin.

    Somerby doesn't do inference. He will not even infer that Zimmerman "followed" Martin from the fact that he and Martin were interacting when Martin was shot by Zimmerman. That seems like a safe assumption, given that Martin had no car and no reason to approach Zimmerman until Zimmerman began stalking him. And there is evidence of that from Martin cell phone calls. But Somerby won't reason from obvious facts, such as whether someone was inside or outside of a vehicle. He either will not or he cannot.

    1. There was a trial, and Zimmerman was found not guilty. The standard was proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Under our system, that standard can lead to guilty defendants being found not guilty (as well as other provisions in the Bill of Rights). There was a witness at the trial who testified that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, whomping him (pretty strong evidence). A summary of the evidence from each witness can be found in Wikipedia. I wasn't there and neither were you so neither of us knows everything that actually happened. "Stalking" is also kind of a loaded term.

    2. AC/MA, Zimmerman was (by his own description) on his way to run an errand when he saw Martin from his truck. Everything else that happened arises because he changed his actions to deal with Martin. He did that because he considered himself a pseudo law enforcement person (neighborhood watch), aka vigilante, and was defending other people's condos, again by his description. That means that Zimmerman initiated the whole situation. And what he did was exactly and fully within the meaning of stalking. I said nothing about Zimmerman's guilt for the shooting, except that it would not have happened if Zimmerman had minded his own business and not been "protecting" other people's property. Somerby denied that point. His denial is what I was taking issue with. You, as usual, understand nothing.

  5. How does cognitive capture occur? What leads intelligent, experienced journalists to spin stories so that a minor criminal looks like a choir boy, e.g. Trayvon Martin, Wright? Surely these reporters are aware that they're not giving their readers an accurate picture.

    My guess is that the practice of sugar-coating black victims, is now well established, that the reason for it hardly matters to the reporters. It's just what you do.-

    1. "e.g. Trayvon Martin, Wright"...Rittenhouse

    2. We never would have went to war with Afghanistan, if the media would have told the truth about the 3,000 Americans killed on September 11, 2001.

    3. David, when a person is charged with murdering, raping, robbing or otherwise harming another person, the details about the victim are irrelevant. It doesn't matter what juvenile crimes they committed or why they were in the neighborhood, or what their grades were at school. The crime is still a crime. When the media interview family and friends of such victims they of course get the most positive picture, because these are the people who care most about the victim in this world. Of course they describe the positives about them. There is no reason for the press to do research to dig out negative facts about victims of crimes (black or white), so when someone does it, there is a motive involved. It tends to be the right wing who digs up negative facts about shooting victims, especially black ones, because they are the ones who have a reason to portray that victim as somehow deserving of being harmed, since the right is defending the shooters who did these bad things. So, if you were a smart person, you would wonder about that motive and discount the smear job done on black victims, because no matter what they did in their prior lives, they didn't deserve to be murdered in cold blood, robbed, beaten, dragged behind a pickup truck, or whatever heinous thing some white person or cop has done to them.

      Your bias against black people sticks out like a sore thumb when you think that any of these details mitigate crime of wrongful death, hate crimes or other misdeeds.

    4. @5:36 Are you serious? Are you claiming that the media never reported that Trayvon Martin is black and George Zimmerman is white? (even though he's actually Hispanic.) Ditto for a bunch of other high-profile cases.

    5. I am referring to what you wrote above. What you say at 8:47 is unresponsive and irrelevant. Zimmerman was largely described as white because he doesn't have a Hispanic surname. The right certainly tried to vilify Martin by reporting his school problems and his text messages, all of which were irrelevant but served to portray him as a bad kid, as if that justified Zimmerman's vigilante behavior culminating in shooting him. You have blown your cover, if you ever had any, and revealed yourself to be a first class bigot. You don't seem to be capable of viewing either person objectively independent of their race.

    6. "the original tale of Bambi, adapted by Disney in 1942, has much darker beginnings as an existential novel about persecution and antisemitism in 1920s Austria...In 1935, the book was banned by the Nazis"

  6. "While we're at it, when did "protecting property that is not [one's own]" turn into something that's morally suspect or wrong?"

    Strawman alert! The assertion was that protecting other people's property was not the same as "self defense", not that it was immoral (after all, police and security guards are hired to do exactly that). Somerby objects to the term vigilante, which describes what people are doing when they protect other people's property without authority to do so. It is also called being a Karen (in minor instances) but Somerby objects to that idea too.

    Don't be fooled by Somerby's strawman, a technique common to most propagandists.

  7. Somerby is using the term "cognitive capture" inappropriately. Here is the definition:

    "Cognitive capture or, cognitive tunneling, is an inattentional blindness phenomenon in which the observer is too focused on instrumentation, task at hand, internal thought, etc. and not on wider aspects of the present environment."

    A difference of opinion is not an example of cognitive capture. Neither is a deliberate focus on some aspect of a situation which Somerby considers inappropraite.

    Cognitive capture is where someone loses a sense of the environment because they have become fixated on a single detail. It is involuntary and attentional, not an aspect of reasoning.

    It is unhelpful to take technical terms from psychology and misapply them to inappropriate examples, in order to add pseudo-scientific heft to one's own opinions, as Somerby does today.

    Here is a valid example of cognitive capture, the cocktail party effect. You are discussing something with someone at a cocktail party when your attention is grabbed by the fact that someone has mentioned your name across the room. You immediate lose track of what your friend was saying to you in your own conversation as your attention involuntarily shifts to hear what was being said about you elsewhere in the room. Another example would be that you are reading an engrossing novel and lose track of what is going in the room around you.

    This is not what is going on in any of Somerby's uses of the term.

    1. I agree. I think these reporters are fully aware of what they're doing. In fact. I think their spin makes them feel virtuous.

    2. Virtuous? Do you have a chip on your shoulder? Where did you come up that doozy?

    3. He’s been reading The Daily Howler.

  8. Don't let David kid you.
    He 100% supports the protection racket the police run on the public.

  9. This "crossed state lines" mantra so many used is also beating a dead horse. You seem obsessed. We know the press is shallow as Hell.

    1. It is a trivial detail that changes nothing about the situation. The friend who bought Rittenhouse that AR-15 and gave it to him to take to the riot is being charged for that illegal act. He is, in fact, an accomplice to what Rittenhouse did. THAT is important. Beyond that, it is true that Rittenhouse drove to Kenosha in order to participate in the riot. It might require too much additional discussion to add the details about the friend who violated gun laws and enabled Rittenhouse to kill two unarmed men.

  10. A hundred white children are abused by their parents and nobody riots either. And 100 wives are killed by their husbands in episodes of domestic abuse and no one riots. Come to think of it 100 black children and 100 black wives are abused and no one riots. 100 dogs are abandoned in trash cans but there are no riots over that. Why not? Maybe because boogaloo bois don't see the likelihood of a civil war emerging from those crimes? Maybe because men don't care about women or children, and it is primarily men who engage in rioting. David never complains about any of these things. I wonder why not.

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  12. David,
    Let us know when Rittenhouse shoots executives at private equity firms to protect businesses from being looted.

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