My background is in user experience and product development, I couldn’t agree more with this post. Humans respond and react to what they can experience. History presents abstract concepts in relation to decision making. A simplistic example is telling a child something will burn them, but if the child never experienced extreme heat or a burn, it is an abstract concept, this is why many kids will still approach stoves despite warning them, in product development we then try to make “experiential” features to prevent this from happening (akin to Pavlovian training).
I have been dumbfounded by what people have “chosen” to believe and act on in the last few decades. Just in the United States, from anti-vaxxers, to guns in bars, to today’s Trump candidacy, it is largely not based on the public’s reflection on facts or history, but because they have grown up in the comfort provided by what happened in the abstract of history, they live without the first hand experience of getting burned.
Take the anti-vaxxers, the advent of the measles vaccine is literally just passed the 50+ year mark, the generation rallying against having children vaccinated don’t have the life experience of a measles epidemic that killed as much as 7 million children. You can relay as much history and facts you want, but without experiential knowledge there will always be a seed of doubt.
Look at the rise of Shinzo Abe in Japan, again, history repeats itself in the 50–100 year cycle (literally, since his own grandfather was a right wing politician and short of a war criminal during WWII). Just listen to Trump supporters who say “how bad can 4 years of a Trump Presidency be?” That statement sums it all up. While the United States never had a Hilter like figure, we certainly lived through the McCarthy era which echoes very much Trump’s rhetoric. People are willing to forgo facts, history or even the ability to imagine, and put themselves through the experience of a demagogue like Trump as leader of the free world.