Who Really Believes That S**t?

I’ve always been a big fan of facts. When I was in school, though, I often got in trouble because I didn’t apply the scientific method to so-called facts I ran across. Some of those “facts” I embraced were from extended family members and some from unreliable print sources – like the 1910 encyclopedia from my grandparents’ attic, where some facts weren’t so much wrong as outdated. As I grew older, I did learn a bit more about facts, and when it might be painful to insist on factual accuracy. For example, adults didn’t like it when interrupted with an observation that their facts were incorrect, even when a reference book showed they were nowhere close

In college I learned in depth about another way of presenting facts – statistics. Later on, as an industrial economist and as a political staffer, I learned more than a few ways of lying, or sometimes just exaggerating, with absolutely accurate statistics.

But, really, facts and accurate statistics, even accurately and objectively presented, won’t change people’s minds when they’re emotionally convinced of something.

As we all know, or should know, some deeply held beliefs aren’t rational. I have an acquaintance who is absolutely and deeply convinced that a ban on assault rifles… or even a ban on rifle magazines that hold more than 25 cartridges – will inexorably and immediately lead to the repeal of the second amendment. There are a few facts in the way of that development. First, to ban all firearms would require a Constitutional amendment, and such an amendment has to win a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress, and then must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, meaning by 38 states. Right now, Republicans control legislatures in 31 states, and with the polarization in the U.S., there’s no way Congress, even by a simple majority, would vote to outlaw all guns, let alone thirty eight states.

Doesn’t matter. This acquaintance is absolutely convinced that any “weakness” by firearms’ rights activists will lead to the loss of all their guns. And he’s not the only one, and it’s not the only issue where people’s mindsets and what they believe have no basis in the facts.

There’s no reputable evidence or study to support the vast majority of claims by antivaxxers. Doesn’t matter. They’re not about to change.

There’s no recent evidence of massive voter fraud. The Heritage Foundation, an ultraconservative think tank, did its best to dig up voter fraud in the U.S. and documented almost 1,300 cases of voter fraud in all elections in the U.S. for more than 20 years. That sounds like a lot, but virtually all the cases involved individuals, and were spread across multiple elections in fifty states. At a minimum, that involves ten federal elections in 50 states, and with both primary and general elections, that’s 2,000 separate elections. So the average fraud level was less than one person per election. That’s an insignificant number compared to the number of voters and elections. Yet right wing conservatives are convinced massive voter fraud exists… because that’s what their emotions tell them.

So who believes all that shit? People who want to, regardless of solid facts.

2 thoughts on “Who Really Believes That S**t?”

  1. Jim says:

    As a friend of mine so aptly put it:
    “What I’ve discovered about my opinion on anything. When people ask me for my opinion:
    1. – They don’t really want to hear my opinion.
    2. – They want to hear their opinion coming out of MY mouth.”

    Truth has always been somewhat relative, but, lately, facts seem no longer to be facts. It’s a strange world.1

  2. Hanna says:


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