Thursday, August 24, 2017

Trump's Remaining Fanbase and the Broken-Glass Proof

Apparently I'm developing a taste for masochism, as I sat through the entirety of Trump's televised Phoenix rally the other night. He kicked it off with an outright lie – claiming there were not many people protesting him outside – and things only got worse from there. Yet his outright lies and lies of omission mattered not at all to his remaining fanbase of supporters. Here's the actual transcript of a brief back-and-forth I had on Twitter while the rally was still ongoing:
ME: Trump just accused CNN of cutting off the feed to the #PhoenixRally. I'm WATCHING that lying narcissistic twit on CNN.

SOME TRUMP FAN: He never said CNN

ME: Yes, he did. You can check it yourself, once this travesty of a speech re-airs.

SAME TRUMP FAN: Awesome speech calling out the media.
It's almost as though "support for Trump" exists in a set amount, and as that support is divided among fewer and fewer Americans, it becomes evermore concentrated in those Americans who DO still support him — mere seconds after his ludicrous claim that the very networks airing his speech were cutting off their feeds (because "they" don't want Americans to hear his words), his fans insisted that no, he never said any such thing, and it's awesome how he said it. The hell of it is, I don't think these people are actively, consciously lying; they genuinely can't see or hear what Trump says or does, when his words or actions contradict reality. They don't even see their own contradictions.

Suppose instead that Trump and his fans admitted the truth about how relatively few people went to the rally versus how very many protested it outside, but said “See, now, this rally WOULD have been packed, if not for God-loving Americans' fear that the evil violent Antifa-types would attack them....” yeah, that would be dishonest and self-serving, but in a way which at least accepts certain undeniable aspects of reality – namely, the numerical amount of people who went out for or against Trump at the rally. But no – instead Trump and his fans went for outright gaslighting: there were YUUGE numbers of rally attendees, a TINY number of protesters, the very networks airing this speech are refusing to air it....

I recall a conversation I had on a certain chat forum years ago—the context was discussing why certain otherwise-intelligent people will deny evolution, or manmade climate change, or something along those lines. And I posited that maybe part of the problem was that such issues lack what I called a “broken glass proof.” By which I mean: suppose you and I are debating the nature of glass – I say it is breakable, you say it is not.

I could perhaps change your mind (or maybe, “You are perhaps capable of changing your mind, if you are intellectually honest enough to admit 'Hmm, my previously held idea was wrong'”) via persuasion, reasoning and deduction: here are the facts regarding glass' chemical formula, crystalline structure, molecular bonds and the relative strength of them all. Everybody knows that substances with these qualities can break, glass has these qualities, ergo glass can break.

But if reasoning and deduction won't convince you that glass can indeed break, it is extremely easy for me to illustrate the breakability of glass: Here's an unbroken glass object. Behold, I just broke it. I can repeat this experiment multiple times if necessary. And if look at those broken shards and still deny glass is breakable, there's two possibilities: you are either lying/dishonest regarding what you actually see, or you are downright delusional/insane. Either way, it's clearly not worth my time to debate you anymore.

Most of the great religious, political or scientific controversies that currently exist or once existed are controversies for which there is no broken-glass proof: you personally cannot see man evolving from lower animals, nor single-celled organisms evolving into complex multicellular life. There is no vantage point from which you can observe the Earth orbiting the sun, the way you can observe carousel horses circling the center of a merry-go-round. You can't even directly see increased levels of greenhouse gases leading to higher average temperatures, the way you can directly see “Huh, holding a lighted match to a pile of newspapers makes those papers catch on fire.” Smoking tobacco doesn't immediately and directly cause lung cancer in the way that swallowing cyanide immediately and directly causes death. Et cetera.

So disbelieving in the evolution of man, the earth orbiting the sun, the reality of man-made climate change – at best these suggest a MASSIVE blind spot, but don't necessarily prove outright dishonesty or delusion in the manner of someone who can look at glass breaking and still deny glass can break, because evolution, the movement of the Earth or similar things all lack that undeniable broken-glass proof.

But lately, this past week or so, the Trumpsters ARE going so far as to deny broken-glass proofs – looking at huge crowds of anti-Trump protesters, yet insisting there's hardly anybody there. Swearing that the very stations which aired his speech refused to air it, because “they” don't want Americans to hear the truth. Accepting Trump's revised accounts of his original post-Charlottesville commentary despite video evidence proving his revised accounts were wrong. And so forth. And that's why I've given up even trying to debate with Trump fans, anymore than I'd waste time trying to convince  people who don't believe those broken shards of glass they see is proof positive that yes, glass CAN break.

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