It’s not that often that such a disturbing paper is offered to our eyes. Thanks Jeff ! I would not say I loved it but I read it twice, and do not regret the time I spent.
I decided to not see this as a pro or anti-Trump writing. It’s just about facts, beliefs and rationality.
Facts are supposed to exist independently of us. Beliefs live in our brains. Rationality means that beliefs should be consistent with facts.
Most of us hadn’t previously realized it, but it has always been true that facts don’t matter in the realm of persuasion […] And it has always been true that irrationality is the norm even though the notion seems counter-intuitive.
As a scientist, I would have fought these two sentences with extreme confidence few years ago: surely, facts are essential to convince people and rationality is a clear attribute of our modern lives.
A recent experience changed this: a person I know started to believe in an obvious scam: would you buy an expensive device supposed to be generating energy out of thin air and fixing CO2 at the same time? I couldn’t believe it. I spent hours and hours trying to convince him using my best weapons: scientific truth, publications… always rationalizing. This was hopeless. No argument had the slightest effect. My understanding is that I had been immediately classified as a member of a world conspiracy defending oil producers.
It’s only months later this person acknowledged that I was right. He had been convinced by a debunking video on YouTube (a video that required extreme efforts from its author).
This experience has been changing my perception of humanity and its supposed rationality.
I still cherish rationality but I know it’s hard to preserve and to spread.
Trump seems to be playing with this with extreme virtuosity.