Tuesday, February 25, 2020 / by Vanessa Saunders
By Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems
Morgan Housel, a partner at Collaborative Fund and a former columnist at The Motley Fool and The Wall Street Journal has compiled a list of "100 Little Ideas" that help to explain how the world works; In reading them over, I found a lot of them apply to the upcoming election in general, and tonight's Democratic Party debate in particular. For example, we might experience the candidates practicing Courtesy Bias: "Giving opinions that are likely to offend people the least, rather than what they actually believe."
Another tactic we may see is called Poisoning the Well: Presenting irrelevant adverse information about someone in a way that makes everything else that person says seem untrustworthy. “Before you hear my opponent’s healthcare plan, let me remind you that he got a DUI in college.”
Or how about the unfortunately named Buridan’s Ass: A thirsty donkey is placed exactly midway between two pails of water. It dies because it can’t make a rational decision about which one to choose.
Rampant in politics is the use of the Appeal to Consequences: Arguing that a hypothesis must be true (or false) because the outcome is something you like (or dislike). The classic example is arguing that climate change isn’t real because combating climate change will cost money and hurt the economy. Likewise appropriate in the climate change discussion is the case of Tribal Affiliation: Beliefs can be swayed by identity and a desire to fit in over rational analysis. There is little correlation between climate change denial and scientific literacy. But there is a strong correlation between climate change denial and political affiliation.
Considering the nature of tonight's candidates, the Plain Folks Fallacy rings true: People of authority acquiring trust by presenting themselves as Average Joe’s, when in fact their authority proves they are different from everyone else.
Perhaps Voltaire had it right when he posited the idea of Behavioral Inevitability: “History never repeats itself; man always does.” Or perhaps philosopher Robert J. Hanlon's theory, Hanlon’s Razor, explaining today's political debates: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
More? Woozle Effect by Daniel Kahneman.: “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.” Ostrich Effect: Avoiding negative information that might challenge views that you desperately want to be right.
In the end, I prefer to go back to the lyrics in Simon and Garfunkel's song, "Mrs. Robinson:"
"Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates' debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose"
See it all at 8pm Eastern time, on CBS.