Trump’s lies: an effective strategy?

We tend to be conformists, preferring to be part of the “in” group that makes decisions and allocates resources. As president, Trump leads this group.

Psychologist Solomon Asch ran a very interesting study on in-groups and conformity and lying.

The study went something like this: He showed people one line that was about three inches long. Then, he showed three more lines to the same people . He asked each person to decide which line was the same size as the first line. One was obviously longer, one was clearly shorter, and one was exactly the same size.

BUT, he asked six (liars) to purposefully give the incorrect answer out loud.

Then, he recorded responses from the people who didn’t know that this first group of six liars were part of the study.

33% of respondents (conformed) and agreed with the liars’ incorrect answer.

Conformity and lying.

According to The Washington Post, in his first seven months as president, Trump made over 1000 false and misleading statements–an average of five a day. And, according to PolitiFact, Trump is biggest liar of all presidential candidates.

Are we fine with that? Do we just accept his ideas, even though we intellectually understand them to be incorrect? Is that why he lies?

Something worth talking about, don’t you think?

President Trump’s propensity for lying is acceptable by voters, and therefore an effective tactic.

Trump’s only human

According to the National Geographic, lying is a human trait, it’s adaptive and expected and nearly everyone does it. Sissela Bok, an ethicist at Harvard University, is quoted in the NG article as saying, “Lying is so easy compared to other ways of gaining power. It’s much easier to lie in order to get somebody’s money or wealth than to hit them over the head or rob a bank.”

Read more here: Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways (National Geographic)

“I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them,” Trump tells us But the Boy Scouts denied it, and Trump’s press secretary agreed: the call never happened.

Trump tweeted about his ban on transgender in the military, saying the decision was made “after consultation with my generals and military experts” but the Joint Chiefs of Staff knew nothing about it.

“Even the President of Mexico called me. Their southern border, they said very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get to our border, which is the ultimate compliment.” Didn’t happen.

but Trump lied through the campaign, we knew it, and voted for him anyway

70% of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checked during his campaign were wrong.
Of the rest, 4% were completely true.
And, 11% were mostly true.

By comparison, 26% of “crooked” Hillary Clinton’s statements were false (as reported by PolitiFact).

Politifact (and other sites) churned out fact-checking information during the campaign but even getting caught lying did not dissuade Trump from exaggerating, making-up and misleading.

besides, truth is hard to find while lies are everywhere

Politifact and provide unbiased analysis of facts that are stated by political candidates and other VIPs, using specific guidelines.

Both sites use original sources and panel review, and both attempt to look at context, among other things. Both sites are free.

But, voters would have had to click on these sites to find the information.

By contrast, information with specific messages is targeted to people. Online sites, TV media, advertising become “echo chambers” of lies.

we want to be right…even when we’re not

With fact-checking sites (and others) available to voters, it seems like motivated voters would challenge public figures on misleading or false information. Instead, there is a tendency for voters  to protect their views as a result of something called “confirmation bias.” All humans are like this, by the way. Some more than others, but, seriously, we all tend to want to be right.

So, confirmation bias is the tendency to believe information that confirms your belief. It’s about remembering information selectively, or interpreting it in a biased way.

And, a recent study from University of Western Australia’s Briony Swire-Thompson shows the ineffectiveness of evidence in changing previously-held beliefs. 2,000 adult Americans were told either: “Vaccines cause autism” or “Donald Trump said that vaccines cause autism.” (Trump has repeatedly suggested there’s a link, despite the lack of scientific evidence for it.)

Trump supporters believed in the misinformation more when it had Trump’s name attached to it.

Afterward participants were given an explanation from a scientific study for why the vaccine-autism link was false, and they were asked to reevaluate their belief in it.

The participants—both liberal and democrat–accepted that the statements claiming the link between autism and vaccines weren’t true. But, a week later, they went right back to believing what they had prior to reading the scientific study.

We are willing to set aside evidence in order to be right.

Except WordStir readers. We are the exception to this bias. Just saying.

and, we love our fighters

Trump’s a great trash-talker.

We love our trash talkers.

Three days before the Superbowl, Joe Namath famously said, “We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it.” Sounds sort of Trump-like, doesn’t it?

PGA Tour-er Keegan Bradley tweeted at Michael Jordon, when Jordon had turned to golfing:
@hornets MJ how does it feel to get beat by me everyday at bears club?!
Jordon’s response:
@Keegan_Bradley Last time I looked, you were wearing MY shoes.

The uber-competitor ‘baller Larry Byrd once said, “I’m just looking around to see who’s gonna finish second.”

Americans love it. We want to know the guys that are on the field or on the court or in the stadium are in it to win—so we excuse them for their crazy bragging lies.

So, if our politicians are fighting for us, maybe we don’t just excuse them, we actually expect them to trash talk. Maybe “truthful hyperbole,” as Trump describes it, is cool as long as it’s about fighting for us.

Trump’s propensity for lying won’t work over time.

beliefs govern behavior

Core beliefs win out over online info-campaigns.

Even when given mountains of data, some people will make decisions based on their core beliefs. According to Pew Research, only 16% of U.S. citizens identify as being “unaffiliated with a religious tradition.” So there’s a bunch of people out there who may have some tendency to rely on a belief system for decisions on big issues. Pew Research has shown that belief systems in the religious right tend to remain unchanged despite online chatter.

For example, turns out, going to church at least once a week is a good predictor of whether or not you support abortion (60% of people who attend religious services at least once a week say abortion should be illegal).

lies cause media bias and that drives us crazy

68% of Americans say they prefer to get political news from sources that have no particular political point of view.

Trump supporters might not mind the lying but other voters do

According to the NY Times:

Trump (so far) has kept the support of most of his voters as well as the Republican leadership in Congress. But the lies are getting to us. Nearly 60 % of Americans say the president is not honest, polls show, up from about 53 percent when he took office.

This is a great article. Check it out: Trump’s Lies (NY Times)

approval ratings are at nearly historic lows

Trump’s third-quarter approval rating is not only poor in comparison with other presidents at the same point in their administrations but also ranks among the lowest in Gallup’s history.

Note:  these numbers are historically low yet fairly steady.


Back to the News Made Simple article here.

Be the first to comment

Let's Talk