Cognitive Psychology

The Cognitive Tom Fuckery Behind the GOP’s Attack on our Health, Democracy, and Planet


There are three issues that the Q-Pubes are mind-bogglingly defiant on:

  1. #COVID19 whether it is testing, prevention, mitigation, vaccination, or recovery funding. For example, Gov Abbott of Texas relaxed all the statewide #COVID19 mitigation efforts to distract folks from the utility disaster that he presided over.
  2. elections whether it is voter suppression, Russian interference, or the Big Lie. For example, Georgia is accelerating its efforts to suppress the votes of likely Dem voters, i.e. Black folks.
  3. climate change. They don’t think human activity causes climate change, so there’s no policy solution to it. Um, ever consider what happens if you’re wrong, fellas?

All three are existential threats to our country as we know it. Instead of engaging in these or any other issue of governance at local, state, or federal level, they prefer to engage in endless hyperventilating culture wars harping on about Antifa, wokeness, and cancel culture in addition to their long long list of past culture war grievances. Please feel free to note your favorite GQP culture war grievances in the comments, y’all!

Their antics populate every news broadcast and publication, so we needn’t go through an exhaustive list here, but we’ll list a few examples from each area. I would love to hear some of your favorite outrage du jour of the Q-Pubes among us in the comments!

Now, they’re taking Putin’s side over Biden’s! I guess it is shocking, but not surprising. I guess. The only explanation must be that they don’t want the country to exist in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed to it. They must want some kind of dystopian pseudo-democracy of mass suffering, death, and obscene wealth for the one percent. So, the question is, why aren’t more people aware of this and acting to stop them? Why do they keep getting elected and invited onto all the talking head pundit shows? Well, there is a fancy set of cognitive Tom fuckery that they use to keep the base, independent voters, and mainstream media bamboozled.

#COVID19

Here, for example, is the popular video of Sen Paul (R – Narcissistic Pedanticism) “questioning” Dr. Fauci over mask wearing and vaccines during a recent Senate hearing on the matter. You should watch it. I know you won’t because buffering, but you should if you haven’t seen it already.

From the Bloomberg Quicktake: Now YouTube account covering Fauci’s Congressional testimony on 19 March

In the video Paul postures so grandly, you’d think he was a strutting peacock and Fauci, a peahen. He keeps asking Fauci about the necessity of wearing a mask after being vaccinated, but when Fauci answers, he just talks over him.

He’s not interested in the answer. He knows he’s wrong. He’s just interested in grandstanding for the base and furthering disinformation.

Just for clarity’s sake, we’ll list Fauci’s answer: Wear a mask after vaccination because there are studies showing that you can be infected with variants after vaccination. In spite of what “doctor” Paul would have you believe.

The question is, why are Q-Pubes so adamantly against mitigating #COVID19. It is an obvious threat to our continued well being. It has inflicted pain, suffering, and death upon millions of our citizens. It has taken billions of dollars out of our economy. And, there is no recovery of the economy until the pandemic is contained. So, why do they fight so hard against doing anything about it? What possible gain could be worth inflicting this much pain, suffering, and death on the country?

The Big Lie

The Big Lie that there is evidence of election fraud that no court in the land was willing to hear is still being touted by elected Q-Pubes, conservative media outlets, and the rank and vile of MAGA Nation. Recently, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber went on Fox News to exclaim that no court including SCOTUS had the courage to overturn a valid election. It doesn’t take courage; it takes evidence to prove that a law was violated.

Another great piece of evidence that the GQP isn’t done with the Big Lie yet, some CPAC panel titles their recent meeting in February 2021:

Then there were Reps Kevin McCarthy (R – Whatever You Want Me To Say) and Steve Scalise (R – Cancer Alley is too Good for “Em) toeing the Q-Pube line on the illegality of the election. McCarthy was saying that he didn’t try to overturn it when he was voting to disallow Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and supported the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election. There you go again making stuff up about Q-Pubes just because they did what you said they were doing. And, Scalise continuing to say on the one hand #BidenHarris were voted in by the Electoral College but on the other questions something something election something something laws something something questions and something, so who can be sure about anything, enquiring minds want to know. These guys are what pass for leadership of the Q-Pubes in the House.

Considering that America is widely regarded as a democracy by the world and her citizens, you’d think all patriotic Americans would be dedicated to democratic ideals, but the GQP is actively working to create a single-party, pseudo-democratic, minority-rule autocratic regime like they have in Russia! If they succeed, America will exist in name only.

Climate Change

After the drubbing that Texas took at the hands of freezing weather and the flooding that Miami and other low-lying areas of Florida are spending billions to mitigate while not allowing anyone to talk about climate change, you’d think that Q-Pubes would be all over trying to prevent the warming of the planet. Given that they are always touting their capitalist and free market credentials, you’d think they would see the handwriting on the wall regarding fossil fuels and start incentivizing fossil fuel companies to expand into renewable energy sources. You’d think for-profit fossil fuel companies would be expanding into renewable energy sources and lobbying for government subsidies, but that is a different blog post all together.

To fight against going green and advocating continuing to use fossil fuels is to advocate for the destruction of the world as we know it. How can you possibly justify such an approach? Sure, I get it, there might be a very slim possibility that human beings aren’t responsible for climate change and there is nothing we can do to prevent it, but if that opinion is wrong, we’ve flushed the environment down the shitter and any prayer of maintaining our bloated human population with it. That’s condemning billions of people to live in misery. Why would you do such a thing? It doesn’t make sense.

The Cognitive Tom Fuckery of the GQP

None of the GQP’s positions on these issues makes sense if you start with the assumption that they are working towards our assumed goals of (a) promoting the health and welfare of the majority of Americans; (b) maintaining our democracy and our democratic ideals; and (c) preserving a livable environment for the majority people in the country and the world.

The False Consensus Effect

It’s been clear for a long long time that the Q-Pubes are actively working against our democracy. It is one of the reasons that Ye Olde Blogge came into existence. But, few people on the left, media, or the general public can actually believe it and use it to understand and predict the Q-Pubes in office. This is because of the false consensus effect, which is the belief that we are an average person representative of the population at large. Each of us believes — until we mention it and then we swear that we know we are far far superior than the average person, which is illusory superiority — that our opinions, abilities, knowledge, whatever is shared in the wider population than it actually is.

We start with the assumption that everyone wants to promote the well-being of every American and everyone on the planet. Who wouldn’t want everyone to be happy and healthy? It’s a no brainer, right?

We assume that stopping #COVID19, maintaining our democracy, and preventing climate change are fundamental to ensuring that the most people are healthy and happy. After all, hasn’t life on the planet been getting better for everyone since the end of World War II? I mean, wasn’t that the point of Steven Pinker’s Angels of Our Better Nature?

When we focus on it, we realize that the assumption is false. There is too much evidence to the contrary, but when are caught unaware, our unconscious believes these things to be true. Our conscious mind might not, but it is not active all the time. It is only active when we need it. It only works with effort and concentration, which we don’t like doing, so we avoid it.

The Q-Pubes are taking advantage of the False Consensus effect. We are giving them the benefit of the doubt because we cannot help it. And, lots of low-information MAGA and independent voters will just assume that the GQP wouldn’t do anything that would really hurt the majority of people living in the US like discouraging mask wearing and opening up the economy, suppressing the vote, and continuing to use fossil fuels because it would hurt people and the planet because to do so would be madness.

Heuristic Projection

Heuristic Projection is the love child of the false consensus effect and the halo effect. You remember the halo effect, right? If we like someone, then we believe that everything they do is good and right and never wrong. Like finding out your favorite B-grade movie star and father of Lara Croft, Jon Voight, is really a nose-picking MAGA nation member. You thought because you liked him in Karate Dog and Anaconda he would be just like you! Man, was you ever wrong! And, now, you can’t watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them even though it was only a small part really because principles.

Now, imagine that you like an organization real good like the ACLU. You assume because you like them (the halo effect) that everything they do is good and that they agree with your opinions and beliefs (the false consensus effect), so that when they endorse a politician, that person must (a) be a good person and (b) agree with all your opinions and beliefs. That’s the heuristic projection or the tendency to use endorsements of politicians by special interest groups (SIGs) as the basis for supporting politicians in elections.

So, if you’re a Q-Pube and you have a choice between a Q-Pube and Dem, you’ll vote Q-Pube every time regardless of whether that politician is continually voting for you to live in Cancer Alley, drink Flint water, enjoy Texas utilities, and die quickly and quietly when you begin to cost more than you contribute to the wealth of the one percent. But, the low-information MAGA voter assumes that the endorsement of conservative PAC or group means that they will be taken care of — by they we mean white people and the bad people (PoC, women, Muslims, liberals) will be punished.

There’s a lot of cognitive Tom-fuckery that the Q-Pubes use to keep their base voting for them, so that they can achieve the goals they want even if it hurts their voters. These are but two. However, that they continue being competitive and winning means their cognitive Tom-fuckery is one of the greatest political sleights of hand ever pulled off.

If you enjoyed this explanation of the Cognitive Tom Fuckery of the GQP that keeps them winning elections, then sign-up for our email list!

Image Attribution

“the ELEPHANT – great destruction” by suRANTo dwi saputra is marked with CC0 1.0

26 replies »

  1. There it is, we are willing to believe that the GOP has our best interests at heart even when we also believe they are completely wrong about how to do it. I see myself falling into that almost daily when the subject is climate change. Then, I have to remind myself that a significant and influential part of their base does not believe this world has a long future and welcomes the End Times. For them, doing anything to mitigate, stop, or slow the process is pointless, futile, and heretical. And, to them, saying this tribulation is caused by human actions in burning fossil fuels is just blasphemy. because the real cause is sin at quite another level, like tolerating Gays and giving women rights, and such, and the end is foreordained. They want the world cleansed of sin and unbelievers. They really do not care about our health or wealth or comfort. They want to save our souls and if they can’t, damn us to Hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      There is a level of nihilism and fatalism in that evangelical Old Testament Book of Revelations mostly white Christian that just floors me. They were popular in W’s administration and were responsible in no small part for our involvement in the illegal Iraq War because it would hasten the end-of-days. They’re willing to make us all complicit in their belief system because they KNOW they’re right. They’re willing to do whatever they think will hasten the end-of-days. It is sickening for the rest of us who don’t share their religious beliefs that they are willing to destroy our environment for their mistaken — delusional? — belief system.

      It is that perfect storm: delusional evangelicals, authoritarian personalities, low-information racist misogynist voters, and cynical exploitative politicians.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • [sigh] Not to mention their support for the ethnic cleansing by way of settlement in the West Bank. Perfect storm is an apt description. Compromise and consensus are pretty much impossible between people who live in fundamentally different universes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!
          It occurs to me that if the evangelical types will support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, they’ll support the ethnic cleansing of various communities of color here in the States. How much further would they have to go to get to ethnic cleansing after mass incarceration and subjecting communities of color to cancer-causing industrial pollution, lead infused water, leaky sewage and water pipes, haphazard and overpriced electricity, substandard healthcare, aggressive murderous policing, and voter suppression?

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

                • And, again, rooted in the Puritan-Calvinist beginnings of the country. If you start down one path, you end up at the other eventually. Evangelical beliefs lead to racism and white nationalism quite naturally. Many white nationalist movements are Christian, so they become very fundamentalist to justify their violence and oppression of others. We’re likely to continue seeing increases in white supremacist violence.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I suppose all societies have the basic divide between those who resist change and long to return to a glorified past and those who are, at the very least, okay with change and willing to make improvements to their society. Those who resist change also seem to view the world as a dangerous place necessitating caution, especially surrounding change. While those who are okay with change, view the world as safer making it okay to explore changes and take chances.

                      Is it safe to say that those who fear change tend to the repressive of those who tolerate change unless their urges are balanced somehow? Is it safe to say that changing too quickly can damage a society and culture as much as repressive regimes do? Unless we’re willing to accept the need to balance each other, which, right now, the conservative resist-change segment isn’t, then we’re likely heading for disaster.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • You’ve well described the conservative and liberal mindsets. In a balanced system, the liberal role is to look toward how things could be better and the conservative role is to watch out for the unintended consequences – the gas pedal and the brake pedal of the car of state. I think that part of the intensity of the conservative opposition to change, and even toward regression in recent decades is due to the rate of change in many areas, demographics, technology, Geo-politics, and so on. They are suffering from Future Shock. The more out of control the world seems to them, the more need they see to exert control and reject compromise.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • You know what we call people who aren’t dealing with reality, right? We call them crazy. Unfortunately, the world not only is changing, it changes at an increasingly rapid rate. We either change with it, or we go extinct. How do we suffer from Future Shock when we read the book in the ’70’s? We’ve known this has been coming for a long long time. To refuse to deal with it and hope to regress seems the ultimate foolishness.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It seems, from the archeological evidence that the rate of change in innovation, cultural and technological, took off at a huge increase about 70,000 years ago. Prior to that, the basic hominid stone took kit had not changed greatly for a million years or more. How that happened is a matter of speculation and debate, but happen, it did, and the rate of change has been following a hockey stick curve ever since. But the genes of those older versions of us are still with us also. There are real cognitive differences between conservative and liberal identified people. The denial of reality of change and necessity of change is crazy from the liberal point of view, but the conservatives call liberals crazy (or, evil) for not being willing to turn back the clock.

                      Yes, we read Future Shock and The Population Bomb in the ’70s. And what happened? We got Reagan. That is a rather depressing connection to make.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Obviously, 70,000 years ago was the first time aliens visited the planet and transferred DNA to us to supercharge our creativity. Or maybe it was a time traveller.

                      Still, we are confronting, yet again, the problem of having hunter-gatherer skills trying to cope with information-age problems. It is important, however, as you point out, that we acknowledge how it looks from the other side. You know you’re dealing with a deep difference when you have the “that’s crazy” reaction to how a group of people are reacting to a situation. When the other side’s reaction doesn’t make sense, you are in a very dangerous place because it signals to your brain that they are a member of the out-group and, therefore, fair game to be oppressed or worse. The problem is that the top-tier influencers of the conservative movement are being completely calculated in how they’re exploiting these differences. They know that change is inevitable. They know that the climate is changing radically. They are just using it to their advantage to keep us divided and the money flowing into their coffers. They are not going to be harmed by the changes in the climate. Their money will insulate them from it. They won’t be affected by racial strife and unrest or mass shootings. Their money will insulate them from it.

                      The other problem we face is believing that there are people with so much money that they are not affected by the things that affect us. That they don’t react to the news of the day the way we do. The reality of the super-rich is so far removed from ours that we cannot conceive of it really. We can think of it when we use our most careful reasoning, but we cannot accept it as reality for anyone.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Perhaps, with regard to the super-rich we could borrow an idea from some of the Native people of the Pacific Northwest, the Potlatch in which they would have to give away all their excess. Oh, that is now called “Taxes”.

                      In clinical practice, I learned that the important question to ask about what didn’t make sense was, “How must that person be seeing the world to think or act that way?” It isn’t easy or comfortable, but it does help in that field and life in general.

                      Their money cannot insulate them permanently, especially when they are blocking effective climate action, but since they are mostly old, white men, it will probably do so until they die. My favorite parable on the subject is The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I saw an article on the luxury bunkers the super rich are investing in to survive the collapse of civilization. It’s like a combination of glamping and doomsday prepping. Maybe they’ll do a reality TV show about it.

                      I’ve used that notion of how must this person view the world in the classroom and around school. It is easy to forget, though. The more distressed or distracted you are, the harder it is to use the insight.

                      I can’t understand why the oil and gas companies are not investing in renewable energy sources. When I was in high school, we used to say that tobacco companies had plans to grow and market marijuana just in case it was ever legalized. Now, that it has been legalized in some states, the tobacco companies haven’t entered the market. Some of it has to do with the laws restricting bank access by those in the marijuana business. I guess it’s the same for the oil and gas companies. They just can’t make the transition. It’s just too different. Thank goodness car companies are making electric vehicles, though. I guess that’s not too different of a business or technology model.

                      I’ve been reading some Poe and Lovecraft short stories recently. I’ll have to reread the Masque of the Red Death.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Some of the oil & gas companies, the really big ones (Shell, Exon, BP) are making noises about going Green, but actual investment levels are vague. The tobacco companies will not, I think, get into the MJ market until is is Federally legal and the banking issues are gone. They will also want ways to push out the small operators and personal growers. The auto companies do have it easier, but some of the parts suppliers will be in trouble because the electric systems are much simpler mechanically and need less repair parts.

                      I vividly remember the first time my Dad read me The Pit And The Pendulum, my first exposure to Poe. I’m a fan ever since. Thinking of Lovecraft, I can see his monsters and Elder Gods as metaphors for the super-rich and entrenched conservatives funded by dark money.

                      If you get a hankering for some big, thick dystopian novels, Neal Stephanson has several, including one in which very thing is privatized and all but the super-rich are sold into indentured servitude from childhood to pay for education and medical care.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I had such fun teaching “The Raven” when I taught English years ago. For several years afterwards, I got message from those students referencing the poem. It was such fun. I find Lovecraft’s prose to be quite sparse, but something compelling about it anyway. Luckily, the libraries I’m a member of have large collections of Neal Stephenson’s work. I’ll be checking some of them out next. I’ll let you know what I think.

                      I’m thinking that the big corporations will get into these new areas late but try to dominate them once they do.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Neil Gaiman reads The Raven [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jSHKPp-66w]

                      Time was (age 10), I had The Raven fully memorized. My other favorite Poe touchstone poem is Eldorado, especially after working with people with Bipolar mood swings – “Over the mountains of the moon and down the valley of the shadow”.

                      The big corporations will, as usual seek monopoly or duopoly. I wonder what percentage of people who go to Business School grew up addicted to that game, not knowing that Monopoly was designed to demonstrate the dangers of monopolies.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Thanks for the link to the reading of “The Raven.” Neil Gaiman is a favorite.

                      It is possible that Poe had some personal knowledge of and experience with bipolar disorder.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, there it is, the answer to the persistent question; “Can they (the Q-Pubes) really be that stupid about what’s good for people, the country, and the planet?”

    That answer is simply that this is the wrong question. They don’t actually care about those things. They do care a lot about continuing to defend a lie once told. They do care a lot about crushing all opposition. They do care a lot about never, never, never admitting to being wrong about anything. They do care a lot about making a show of “owning the Libs”. They do care a lot about certain classes of donors who don’t want their business models to have to change, or their prejudices and magical thinking to be challenged.

    My current favorite example is all of the Republicans in The House voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because it could prevent a femicidal stalker from buying a gun. That reason is BS. The real message is about (White) Male Supremacy and Privilege. That, they care about.

    Many wise observers have pointed it out in some set of words down the ages: If you want to know what someone really cares about, what their values really are, watch what they do, not what they say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      The thing that struck me and I may not have emphasized it enough is that we as the observers of the GQP cannot believe that they are not putting our best interests first. We glibly opine that the GQP is anti-American, but we don’t believe it down in our bones because it is nearly impossible to in part because we fundamentally believe that our opinions and beliefs are widely shared among the larger population. It makes sense because of shared culture — that shoulda been part of the blog post, darn. It was already getting long.

      The situation at the border is a good example. If the GQP put the needs of people first, their first response would be to say that the situation is bad, but let’s see what Biden does. Instead, they immediately begin pounding the issue as proof of absolute failure making it more difficult for Biden to deal with this particular situation and with the whole suite of disasters that Biden has been confronted with.

      My practice has been to believe actions over words. Unfortunately, words have consequences, too.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

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