Why We Ignore and Outright Deny Facts and Evidence

Superstition, belief in the unreal and belief in thoughts being made reality have always been human characteristics. We humans are far more inclined to believe something that fits with our existing view of the universe than something that doesn’t. When I knock on wood, I believe on some level that this act is having an actual effect on the world – that it can determine whether or not my hope comes true. This made sense once upon a time, when we didn’t know enough about the universe to know otherwise, to know better.

Literacy was supposed to change this, to make all of us better people, more credulous and more capable of critical thinking. It did not. Public education was supposed to do what literacy could not, but likewise did not. Improved access to higher education was supposed to succeed where widespread literacy and public elementary education failed, making us less superstitious, less gullible, less prone to believing we can will reality. It did not. And the internet was supposed to open up the world so that information would be democratized and we could all reach our potential as smart, rational, critical thinkers. So far it has not resulted in that world. (#Dontreadthecomments)

Though each of us has access to more information than ever before, it feels like anti-intellectualism is as strong a human characteristic as it’s ever been. Some superstitions might be dying out, but they are being replaced by more widespread beliefs in fanciful nightmares about how the world supposedly works. Conspiracy theories have been around for a long time, but they appear more widely believed than ever before (though that could be just a result of the echo chamber that is the internet).

Why is it that, when we have more information at our fingertips than any previous generation could have even imagined, most of us still believe nonsense? Many of us cannot figure out the difference between a fact and an allegation, between the truth and an appealing lie, between a verified story and an unsubstantiated rumour?

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Taxpayer Rights

Perhaps the trendiest electoral strategy for populists in North America in the last decade or so is the appeal to “Taxpayer Rights.” The idea is that you, payer of taxes, supporter of society and civilization, are not getting your money’s worth under the current (and past) administration. The populist, the champion of the rights of taxpayers, will change all of that. There will be new levels of accountability, efficiency and transparency if you elect the populist (and their party, where applicable).

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Why is Donald Trump Popular?

The rise of Donald Trump has been one of the more unexpected events in recent U.S. electoral history. If you throw your mind back to 2015, Donald Trump becoming the official nominee of the Republican Party, for President of the United States of America, was something that no one was thinking was actually going to happen. He ran for President in 2000 (well, he ran for the nomination of the Reform Party) and withdrew the February prior to the election. In the summer, 538 pointed out that never in recent U.S. history has someone who was a front-runner a year and a half out in an election cycle ever won the presidency.

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