Sunday, November 27, 2016

George Lakoff — A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do


A cognitive science analysis of the election.
I will argue that the nature of mind is not a mere technical issue for the cognitive and brain sciences, but that it had everything to do with the outcome of the 2016 election — and the failure of the pollsters, the media, and Democrats to predict it. They were not alone. The public needs to understand better how the human mind works in general — but especially in politics. There is a lot to know. Let us go step by step….
Important.

Humans act much more in terms of presumptions of which we are not consciously aware, unlike assumptions of which we are conscious. Presumptions are hidden assumptions. Understanding now this operates is based on understanding the neurology from the point of view of cognitive science.
We can only understand what our brain circuitry allows us to understand. If facts don’t fit the worldviews in our brains, the facts may not even be noticed — or they may be puzzling, or ignored, or rejected outright, or if threatening, attacked....
Why do people vote against their interests? Because they vote their values. Republicans got this. Democrats didn't.
For each type of conservative, the main issue is one’s identity, which is defined by strict father values. One can have a religious version, a business version, or a working class resentment version, but in each case self-identity is the issue. That is why those who voted for Trump didn’t care if he constantly lied, or if he treated women outrageously, or if he was ignorant of foreign policy. What mattered was the voter’s moral identity, the voter’s sense of right and wrong, the voter’s self-respect as a conservative.
Trump and those in his campaign understood this. Those in the Democratic party, the media, and pollsters did not.
Moreover, values can be shaped. Conservatives have been working on this for decades. As result, many of the white working class voted against their economic interests, generally more supported by liberals, in favor of their more deeply seated conservative values.

This is a bit longish and somewhat repetitive for those who are already familiar with Lakoff. But it is a good summary and worth the read.

Incidentally, this accords in some ways with Scott Adams' view about persuasion versus reason in that both are based on psychology rather than reason. Lakoff and Adams view reason as the booby prize in politics.

George Lakoff
A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do
George Lakoff | Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society

16 comments:

Matt Franko said...

All of those cognitive circuits are constructed thru training Tom.... if you don't train them they don't develop....

You get me a person under-trained in mathematics and then make that person a libertarian too and I'll show you a person who will never understand we're not "out of money!"...

Bob said...

Your values won't pay your rent or improve your children's future. Some people have to learn their lessons the hard way.

Tom Hickey said...

You get me a person under-trained in mathematics and then make that person a libertarian too and I'll show you a person who will never understand we're not "out of money!"...

Lakoff would say, I believe, that it's mostly a matter of one's normative attitude toward debt, thrive, and saving as signals of being "responsible."

In my experience in discussion this with conservatives they are willing to admit that the US cannot run out of money since the US issues the dollar. The argue that it is irresponsible for government to do so.

From what I can see it is not about their not getting the math (reason) but their morality.

Argue them back to foundational assumptions and that is where it ends up.

For liberals it is a matter of potential. If it is possible then it should be done. For conservatives it is a matter of morality. Even through it is possible, it should not be done.

Tom Hickey said...

Your values won't pay your rent or improve your children's future. Some people have to learn their lessons the hard way.

Hard work and learning through experience,, often bitter, are key to the strict father-conservative view of the world.

Tom Hickey said...

"debt, thrive, and saving" should be "debt, thrift, and saving."

Noah Way said...

The polls "failed" because they are as corrupt and manipulated as the corporate media.

Bob said...

Hard work and learning through experience,, often bitter, are key to the strict father-conservative view of the world.

How to set an example for hard work when you're an unemployed parent? No wonder they drug and drink themselves to death. Conservative morons.

Bob said...

I agree with Noah, the polls could not be trusted.

Kaivey said...

Like it!

Greg said...

"You get me a person under-trained in mathematics and then make that person a libertarian too and I'll show you a person who will never understand we're not "out of money!"...

"Lakoff would say, I believe, that it's mostly a matter of one's normative attitude toward debt, thrive, and saving as signals of being "responsible."

Excellent point Tom.

To many you arent "thriving" if you are getting ANY kind of income support or common pool good. And I think the key to combatting this is to not let those who "have" get away with defining everything they have as "rightfully acquired". There is a clear bias against anything which appears to come form taxation of wealthy to "give" to losers. A key to fighting this is to break the hard link between govt spending and taxation.

The problem with debt discussions is that average people look at govt debt as equally onerous as their own mortgage debt, so they concede to harmful policies which are targeting our "unsustainable" govt debt even if they hurt public services.

The idea of saving as virtuous will always be there but we can break the idea that savers "deserve" 7% or 5% or whatever. The trouble with the "deserving" argument is that Fed rates must be increased significantly to put interest rates up to that desired level which makes everyones elses life way more expensive

Ignacio said...

Matt, in Germany people understand governments can't run out of money, but morally shouldn't finance through 'printing money'. They been brainwashed about "Weimar republics!" in the last decades.

Morality is an issue too, specially when your morality is stupid and hypocritical (as they are efine with letting banks print all the money in the world, "because markets"?).

Matt Franko said...

His point makes no sense at all Greg...

What does govt being "out of money!" have to do with virtue signaling about "debt!"?

Matt Franko said...

Ignacio, all of that Weimar stuff is 100% rote...

Matt Franko said...

"you print money, you're Weimar Germany!"

"deficit too small!"

"exports costs, imports benefits!"

"interest income is welfare for the rich!"

all rote garbage....

Matt Franko said...

I'm starting to think perhaps most of the MMT people only understand it thru rote... so all they can do is regurgitate the slogans... which obviously doesnt work...

Greg said...

"What does govt being "out of money!" have to do with virtue signaling about "debt!"?"


When you think the govt "should" get money from the people, live within its means per se, then you look at "helicopter drops" as debasing a currency and absolutely evil.

So when someone says they are for more govt spending they have to then follow it by saying but we will need to pay for it down the road either with greater economic growth or higher taxes. So the next discussion is "Does the spending suggested increase productivity or is it "just" giving money away." A whole other rabbit hole that has no exit