The media, establishment figures, and seemingly many of Clinton’s supporters, were surprised at Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections because they think like warriors instead of scouts.
Julia Galef described these different thinking processes in the video below – which I posted 6 months ago (see Are you really right?). Last week’s US presidential election result, the public uproar it resulted in – and my own feelings that the media coverage of the election had been biased for months – make this video even more applicable today.
Julia describes the two different mindsets required in fighting a war:
The “Warrior mindset” – emotively based and fixated on success. Not interested in stopping to think about the real facts or rationally analyse the situation.
The “Scout mindset” – objective and rational, ready to consider the facts (in fact, searching them out) and logically consider possibilities.
Obviously both mindsets have their place in a war – one could not win if there were not highly motivated and emotionally determined warriors. Nor could one win if there were no scouts who could collect the facts, rationally analyse them and determine the best strategy or tactics.
The pollster’s “warrior mindset”
I think Clinton’s loss, and the subsequent surprise and uproar from her supporters comes from the dominance of a “Warrior mindset” in her campaign. Motivated reasoning, belief of one’s own propaganda – and belief that voters accepted that propaganda – especially the demonisation of the opponent. There seems to have been little place for the “Scout mindset.” Polling seemed driven by wishful thinking and not identification of weak areas where effort could be applied.
In contrast, Trump’s campaign polling seemed to have had more of the “Scout mindset.” Areas requiring attention were identified and resources applied to them. Looking back, I think Trump’s confident assertions about his victory were based on that good polling. And the laughter and disbelieving response from the Clinton camp (and media) was based only on wishful thinking – not good polling.
OK, that partisanship and wishful thinking, and the election result itself, are of little concern to me at this distance. I had no dog in that race. But the partisanship and “Warrior mindset” of the main stream media does concern me.
The media’s “warrior mindset.”
The US media, and the media of many other countries, seemed to have accepted the unfounded confidence and wishful thinking of the Clinton camp. It seemed to indulge in the demonisation and misrepresentation of Donald Trump – willing to laugh at anything he said that was at all buffoonish (while ignoring the often equally extreme comments from Clinton). The media, like the Clinton camp, was out of touch with the thinking of the person in the street and the problems they faced.
Hence the media surprise – and even some critical self-analysis (although how long will the lesson they claim to have learned last?).
But I see the same partisanship, motivated reasoning and outright ignoring or distortion of facts by the media in its treatment of many other world events. Just take the reporting of the war in Syria. So often our media relies on “rebel”/”terrorist” sources for their “facts.” Media sympathy with those “rebels”/”terrorists,” and media hostility to the legitimate Syrian government and its allies is all I have come to expect from most of the main stream media.
I am sometimes attacked for choosing to use a range of media sources for my information. For not restricting myself to the “approved” or “legitimate” media. But surely those critics should learn from their surprise at the US election result.
Today there is no such thing as an objective – let alone an “approved,” or “legitimate” – media. Just media that confirms one’s biases if you let it.
The sensible person must use a range of news sources, recognising that each of them have their own biases and agendas, and do a bit of thinking for themselves.
Featured image: Flickr/Edith Soto.