Absolutely right, but will it be taken seriously?

Copied in full (from Eugene Volokh):

An excellent statement, released Tuesday and written by two leading voices, one on the right and one on the left (though it has also been signed by many other prominent scholars):

The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth. These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.

That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree — especially on college and university campuses. As John Stuart Mill taught, a recognition of the possibility that we may be in error is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider — and not merely to tolerate grudgingly — points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous. What’s more, as Mill noted, even if one happens to be right about this or that disputed matter, seriously and respectfully engaging people who disagree will deepen one’s understanding of the truth and sharpen one’s ability to defend it.

None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions. This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either. So someone who has not fallen into the idolatry of worshiping his or her own opinions and loving them above truth itself will want to listen to people who see things differently in order to learn what considerations — evidence, reasons, arguments — led them to a place different from where one happens, at least for now, to find oneself.

All of us should be willing — even eager — to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments. The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage — especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held — even our most cherished and identity-forming — beliefs.

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University.

 

 

How Not to Think About Motivated Reasoning

The New Yorker recently published a small piece on motivated reasoning and evolutionary psychology titled Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds. Motivated reasoning (“MR”) is a pet interest of mind – *ahem* Intellectually Honestest – and every so often it gets some run for wider audiences (like the New Yorker). The specific impetus in this case seems to be a new book that tries to answer why we like our preexisting biases so much:

In a new book, “The Enigma of Reason” (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber  . . . point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision.

Cool. I like evolutionary psychology. I tend to think more in economic frameworks, e.g. incentives, and don’t worry so much about the “why,” but all ideas are welcome.

But . . . the New Yorker can’t help itself and eventually tells us why it’s really interested in motivated reasoning. Because, Trump, obviously:

Surveys on many other issues have yielded similarly dismaying results. “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

I don’t want to write-off the article completely because it does a good job describing the overriding tendency for reason to (a) favor certainty and conviction; (b) favor what is already assumed to be true; and (c) make us feel good when both (a) and (b) are accomplished.

But I agree with Arnold Kling that the New Yorker mostly succeeds by demonstrating the thing it purports to describe: “Don’t worry loyal readers, motivated reasoning is why the roughnecks and uncredentialed don’t get us. They just haven’t fully evolved from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Amiright?! High Fives!”

As Kling puts it:

Kolbert and her New Yorker readers are reassuring one another that they are right to be contemptuous of President Trump . . .

Suppose that I were to apply the illusion of explanatory depth to the response to the financial crisis, including the bank bailouts. The elites in this country believe that they understand the causes of this policy (too much deregulation) and the consequences of this policy (saved us from another Great Depression). They hold this baseless belief because their fellow elite-members hold this baseless belief. And one could argue that the Trump Administration is a consequence of the fact that the elite view is not convincing to the rest of the country. (Note, however, that I do not claim to understand last year’s election. I am just suggesting that elites can be just as shallow as Trump supporters. I would go further and suggest that flattering yourself because you hate Trump is itself a sign of intellectual shallowness.)

And therein lies the problem with evangelizing concepts like motivated reasoning. Demonstrating that bias is more pervasive than we give it credit for very quickly becomes someone else’s bias. It’s just further evidence that, seriously, we were right all along.

MR: We’re incredibly good at convincing ourselves that we were right all along and that our team is way better.

Person: Yeah, other people are totally like that. It explains why I can’t convince them that they’re wrong — even when I’ve got charts and videos that totally prove I’m right.

MR: No, everyone. That means you and me too. For example, I’m constantly looking for evidence to confirm my belief that people are motivated reasoners.

Person: Yeah. I agree. Other people are totally biased. It’s a problem. How do we fix them?

It’s part of what makes the behavioral economics policy crowd so troubling. It’s a great insight to realize that decision-making is highly contextual and that the “right” thing is often reverse-engineered from “best thing for me and the things that make me feel good and care about.” The problem is that it’s everyone else that needs “nudging,” but never them. The thought doesn’t even cross their minds.

Whatever institutional, social, neurological or game-theoretic constraints that apply to ordinary citizens and justify all kinds of paternalistic interventions apparently suspend in time and space when you become a policy-maker. Back to the dialogue (and pardon the self-indulgence):

Technocrat: “We need federal agencies to help people overcome their biases and make better decisions.”

Humble Blogger: “Well, what if the federal agencies are also biased in the exact same ways?”

Technocrat: *Blink* “Did you read the New Yorker on Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds? You totally should — I think it would help you a lot.”

Humble Blogger: “No, but seriously. There’s a ton of research on this – it’s called Public Choice and it’s been around a long time. Incentives for public officials make them do all kinds of things that are mostly good for public officials. It turns out they’re human too. In general, technocracy has a really bad track record, relative to trade-tested trial-and-error, but that’s my bias.”

Technocrat: “Oh, you’re just a paid shill for the Koch brothers. Stupid, profiteering, one-note ideologue. Good luck with the Gilded Age and the Great Depression and the Racism and the sweatshops and the financial crisis and the Super PACs and all the things that we technocrats totally fixed.”

Humble Blogger: “Yeah, have you ever wondered how that account of history became so prevalent?”

Technocrat: “Triumph of reason. Obviously. Have you seen this one chart that proves it all?”

If it seems like I’m doing the same thing to the technocrats, you’re not wrong. There is too much uncertainty, particularly when it comes to something as complex and uncontrolled as human civilization, to be overly certain about anything. Reasonable doubt is reasonable, and it allows all teams to say: “It would have worked, it just wasn’t [socialist/capitalist/conservative/liberal] enough — if only it had been more [regulated / de-regulated / redistributive / libertarian] then you’d see I’m right.”

Granted. But to my mind, the fact of uncertainty strongly favors less prescription, and not more. It also favors weight-of-the-evidence approaches, rather than anecdotes, and marginal changes, rather than one-size-fits-all.

By all means, start your commune, just don’t force anyone to join.

The Lyin’ Biased Sports Media

Bryan Curtis of The Ringer asks (and answers) the question: How Sportswriting Became Such a Liberal Profession?

The piece is interesting both for its open admission of journalistic bias – Curtis himself identifies as a “liberal” i.e. a Progressive, who approves of the takeover – but even more so for the question it doesn’t ask: what took so long?

For Curtis, sportswriting became progressive basically because everyone else was doing it. Curtis’s self-assurance is remarkable (to me) though because the sports world challenges every thread of the Progressive narrative, from race to economics to governance and to values. It’s amazing that sportswriters (like Curtis) could become so unapologetically “liberal” despite, y’know, sports.

Curtis is emphatic that sportswriting skews way Left:

Today, sportswriting is basically a liberal profession, practiced by liberals who enforce an unapologetically liberal code.

It’s not an accident; it’s what the folks doing the hiring want to see:

There was a time when filling your column with liberal ideas on race, class, gender, and labor policy got you dubbed a “sociologist.” These days, such views are more likely to get you a job.

Bias has gotten so pervasive, it’s actually become difficult to find commentators that don’t repeat the Progressive party line:

Last year, Slate’s Josh Levin went searching for the voices who were dinging Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest. Levin found conservatives like Tomi Lahren and a couple of personalities from FS1. In the old days, such voices would have filled up half the sports columns, easy.

[Update: I’m not entirely convinced that sportswriters are all that biased. I agree that they’re generally more skewed Left than their audience (or the population at large) and that thinking the wrong stuff gets people fired (Schilling) and suspended (Clevinger), but sportswriters are better than politics or economics writers when it comes to even-handedness, perhaps for the reasons set forth below. But it’s Curtis’ story that I’m responding to specifically, so I’ll give him the floor.]

Later in his column, Curtis offers a number of reasons why things have changed – social media, Obama, evidence-based reasoning(!) – but I won’t go into them at length because (a) that’s what Curtis is for; and (b) my interest is that they are all iterations of the same basic point:

there was once a social and professional price to pay for being a noisy liberal. Now, there’s at least a social price to pay for being a conservative.

Bear with me while I editorialize a bit, but Curtis’s argument is essentially that sportswriting became progressive because the cultural elite wouldn’t tolerate anything else, and in the era of Obama’s Progressive triumphalism, they didn’t have to. (Curtis fondly notes that the “Obama administration was a dream time for liberal sportswriters, who had a president who talked about sports like they did“.) As Curtis himself proudly puts it, sportswriting became progressive because:

revolutionary ideas [became] a ruling philosophy  . . . [and] the former insurgents g[ot] the run of the place.

Well then.

According to Curtis (sort of), the president and social media gave progressive sports journos the assurance that they were not alone in their moral superiority. The long arch of justice required that rigid ideological commitment should be rewarded – nay, demanded – of athletes, fellow writers, league executives – whomever – on pain of social, professional and legal censure. Just ask back-up no-name catcher, Steve Clevinger, what happens when you speak improvidently of the wrong protesters or president.

That Curtis proudly wears his Thought-Police Badge, while celebrating the ideological purge of his industry is sadly unremarkable (but that won’t stop me from remarking). It’s (yet another) testament to the toxicity and power of Progressive cultural ascendancy, but that’s a given at this point.

What’s really amazing is that sports itself is so un-Progressive, but that still didn’t (a) stop the purge; or (b) dampen Curtis’s victory dance in the slightest.

For example, sports suggests that everything Progressives tell us about race is wrong. Minorities are wildly “over represented” relative to the population. Black athletes somehow overcame outright bigotry to become not only wildly successful, but globally iconic (even in flyover country). Indeed, sports shows that naked self-interest and a desire to win (and profit) are highly effective at overcoming racial animus. A sport like hockey also demonstrate that racial disparities can involve self-selection and culture, and not necessarily racism.

Hell, sports is one of the last true bastions of viewpoint diversity where country-boys meet the city kids and city kids meet the religious kids and the religious kids meet everyone else. Athletes know something about the world outside their upbringing, and they understand how having money can make you a target (and not necessarily a bad person). Athletes emphatically understand that the Press is not your friend.

Sports is meritocratic, hard-working and winner-take-all. To the determined and talented go the spoils and only losers blame bad luck. There is no shortage of physically gifted flameouts that never put in the time or effort to play past their rookie contracts. Sports celebrates strength, achievement, fair play, rule-following and most of all *gasp* fierce and unrelenting competition. Dum dum dummmm.

Even some of the examples that Curtis cites of an emerging Progressive consensus are in fact free-enterprisey (i.e. very un-Progressive). Underpaid (and unpaid) athletes? That’s what happens when a cartel controls a labor market [or any market], dummies. Sports drafts as something akin to slavery? Well, that’s how the medical profession and the academy operate . . . say no Progressives ever. It’s not A-Rod’s fault for signing with the highest bidder? No shit, comrade.

Curtis himself notes the conflict between the Progressive desire to condemn and destroy the scourge of sexual assault at any cost, and their desire to protect young Black men from the living hell of criminal prosecution. Goodness it’s confusing when you’re confronted with consequences that aren’t supposed to exist. Pondering the two outcasts, Michael Vick and Ray Rice, Curtis wonders:

And there’s another liberal ideal at stake here: that criminals who’ve paid their debt to society ought to have a chance to re-enter it. In 2010, Barack Obama congratulated the owner of the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a job after he was released from prison. Rice’s bad acts were very different from Vick’s. But say Rice got another NFL job after his apology tour. Would a sportswriter have written an encomium to the owner who signed Rice? Should they have? It’s an awfully tough question.

What’s even more astonishing is that sportswriters could go so Whole-Hog Progressive even though they’ve been remarkably good at separating narrative from evidence – at least as journalists go. There are still some holdouts, but the blogger nerds with their spreadsheets long ago showed that virtues like grit, veteran leadership, clutchness, hot handedness, hard-fistedness, etc. were often, if not exclusively, supported with anecdotal evidence and whole lot of myth-making (confirmation bias, recency bias, etc.). They also demonstrated how statistics can be used very badly, if for example the thing they count is not all that meaningful in real life, like batting average or ERA.

Curtis describes sports journalism’s predilection for data as follows:

If liberals have a long-standing delusion, it’s that the presentation of hard data (about everything from climate change to “voter fraud”) will win the masses to their cause. But within sportswriting, this is actually true.

I’m biased, but I think it’s more accurate to describe the Progressive “delusion” as the same one that afflicts the Old School sports guys who insist that “hard data” like Saves and Wins tell you something interesting about the quality of the pitcher. Sportswriters have been hard on the Old School types, so it’s surprising that sportswriters wouldn’t be more skeptical of Progressive statistical claims made about wagespolicing or rape culture.

Anyway.

I suppose one thing that sportswriters and Progressives (and ALL political parties) have in common is that they both sell team sports. Electoral politics and sports reward dedicated coalitions of single issue customers. If you’re a sports fan, just listen to the home broadcast of the opposing team. It’s like Fox News to the MSNBC crowd – the announcers will be describing the same game you’re watching, but it won’t sound the same. Politics and sports also involve zero sum, winner-take-all games, where increasing your own stature (offense) is just as beneficial as reducing your adversaries (defense). Both sports and political fans root for their team and genuinely loath the bad guys. It’s weird and tribal.

But that’s always been true, so I’m going to agree with Curtis that the overriding power of the Progressive cultural war is what ultimately forced sports journalism into the herd.

Tyler Cowen Has Been on Fire

Tyler Cowen is my odds-on favorite for public intellectual of the year (if not decade). I’ve run the data through my models and it’s incontrovertible.

But seriously, Cowen has had two terrific pieces on bubbles (and has consistently been the sanest, and therefore best, observer of Trump).

On bubbles, both pieces are worth reading in full, but just a taste of the first one, Ways to Burst Your Filter Bubble:

So I have a second proposal and one you may find less pleasant, perhaps precisely because it may turn out to be effective. Keep a diary, write a blog, or set up a separate and anonymous Twitter account. And through that medium, write occasional material in support of views you don’t agree with. Try to make them sound as persuasive as possible. If need be, to keep your own sense of internal balance, write a dialogue between opposing views, just as Plato and David Hume did in some of their very best philosophical works.

Cowen also mentions my personal favorite, Bryan Caplan’s Ideological Turing Test. If you can convince the other political team that you are a co-believer, then you have demonstrated comprehension of their political views. Until then, you’re fighting a strawman.

The second bubble piece, Ollie the Bobcat, Trapped Again in Washington’s Bubble, is a real something-for-everyone doozy. I don’t agree with all of it, but I admire Cowen for following his own advice.

On Wednesday, the female bobcat Ollie — who had escaped from her enclosure two days earlier — was discovered at Washington’s National Zoo. This may seem like a trivial event, but it does reflect some major themes of our time. . .

First, we Americans play it far too safe, most of all when it comes to our children. After Ollie’s escape was reported, 13 nearby schools canceled their outdoor recesses, even though bobcats are not a threat to human beings (they prefer very small prey). Better safe than sorry seems to be the national childrearing philosophy, but the phony threats are causing us to overlook real dangers to our children, such as the national debt and mediocre political institutions. At least the kids won’t be done in by a 25-pound feline.

A Straussian dig at the innumerate fear of terrorism and the folks who sneer at the innumerate fear of terrorism. We’ve all got innumerate fears. The political history of regulation is one of innumerate fears.

Dare I suggest that Ollie has shown us that walls do not work? The National Zoo supposedly has foolproof enclosures for its animals, but Ollie made a 5-by-5-inch hole in her cage and simply climbed out. A nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico won’t be easier to police.

That one needs no explaining.

Ollie’s walkabout also illustrates a problem in gender relations. She shared her cage with two male bobcats, and perhaps they were part of the reason she left. Furthermore, the public descriptions of Ollie show a kind of gender bias: Her keepers called her as “standoffish,” whereas a male escapee might have been called “independent,” “adventurous” or “entrepreneurial.”

Bam. Didn’t see that coming, Mr. Economist Man. Something for everyone.

Upon capture, the treatment of Ollie shows why health-care costs are escalating so rapidly. Today she will be given a full medical examination, even though it seems she did little more than walk around some fairly posh parts of town. The rule seems to be that if we can give someone or something a full checkup, we will. Ollie did have one small scratch on her paw.

Just when you thought your affiliation bias was tenderly cared for, Cowen gits his dirty hands all over your ‘BamaCare.

The saddest part of the Ollie saga is that, believe it or not, not everyone cares so much about freedom . . . [Ollie] was found by the bird cages, shortly after the zoo reported it was giving up the search. It seems she is more of a homebody, preferring federal rule, federal housing and a heavily regulated diet to a tax-free life on the lam.

Wait. Wuhhh?

I think the moral of story, as set forth by Cowen, is a little corny. But, I’m nitpicking:

So what’s the bright side of this whole story?

. . . [I]t turned out our patience — our bobcat — never really went away. She was hanging around the whole time, right under our noses.

So just when things appear to be hopeless, just when our government appears to be ridiculously impatient, and the long perspective no longer seems worth the struggle and search, perhaps our American rigor, determination, far-sightedness will appear once again, as if by magic. Right here in Washington.

Bobcat lore also holds that “bobcat people are typically already learned in the importance of keeping silent about sensitive affairs.”

If only a few food traps out by the bird cages would do the trick.

Political Trash Talk

Tyler Cowen has some mostly excellent commentary on Spicer’s recent “lies” regarding the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds:

Trump’s supporters are indeed correct to point out that previous administrations also told many lies, albeit of a different sort. Imagine, for instance, that mistruths come in different forms: higher-status mistruths and lower-status mistruths. The high-status mistruths are like those we associate with ambassadors and diplomats . . . if all you ever heard were the proclamations of the ambassador, you wouldn’t have a good grasp of the realities of the situation. Ambassadors typically are speaking to more than one audience at once, a lot of context is required to glean the actual meaning, and if they are interpreted in a strictly literal manner (a mistake) it is easy enough to find lots of misdirection in their words. Most of all, ambassadors just won’t voice a lot of sensitive truths.

Arguably those diplomatic proclamations are not lies, but they do bear quite an indirect relationship to the blunt, bare truth . . . And indeed it is correct to think of every incoming (and ongoing) administration of doing lots of “lying” — if that is the right word — of this sort.

Cowen, as per usual, is taking a more nuanced approach to the “everyone does it” argument, although he solves the “false equivalency” rejoinder by explaining why Trump’s “lying” is the same, but isn’t exactly the same. Cowen is being charitable, as well (also as per usual). Another way of saying “higher-status mistruths” is fancy lying, or lying with long words, endless prevarication and nimble obfuscation. Cowen dignifies “higher-status mistruths” by associating them with “ambassadors and diplomats,” but again, that’s just another version of “lying for thee, but not for me” except this time with a PhD in European History and the finest prep school education.

Cowen knows this, but he doesn’t want to lose his audience, so he approaches with caution. To whit:

These higher-status lies are not Trump’s style, and thus many of his supporters, with some justification, see him as a man willing to voice important truths. If Trump’s opponents don’t understand that reality, and the sociological differences between various kinds of misdirection, they are going to underestimate his appeal and self-righteously underestimate how much they are themselves mistrusted by the public.

Truer words have never been spoken. This is another version of “Trump is real.” When Trump exaggerates, obfuscates or “lies” (and like Cowen, I’m uncomfortable with that term), people can tell. Whether and to what extent they hold it against him depends on the context, but they understand that Trump is a politician and a salesman and that being bombastic is part of his shtick.

But the important thing is that his supporters prefer that unbridled style to the carefully curated, crowd tested and coalition approved double-speak that a team of Ben Rhodeses puts together for every other politician. Trump may fudge the details, but his import is clear. Obama will elegantly frame the details, but will say everything and nothing at once. The establishment conceit is that somehow the latter is more trustworthy, but these are politicians were talking about–neither of them are trustworthy. In fact, the only “trust” communicated by Obama et al. is that he lies the right way, i.e. he’s one of us (which for everyone else makes him relatively less trustworthy).

More importantly, Trump “is willing to voice important truths” rather than dance around the complex set of rules and mores devised by the beltway elite (which matter to them and them alone). For example, Trump says plainly and repeatedly what everyone knows to be true that radical Islamic terrorists are out there and they’re trying to kill you. Compare that with the absurd theater of Obama’s prevarication over the identity and motives of the San Bernardino and/or Orlando terrorists. Trump’s willingness to speak without regard to the internal politics of K Street, or the prior approval of the chattering class (whose deference to the squeakiest self-righteous wheel distorts the truth in its own way) is a large part of his charm–and Trump grows more charming every time the chattering class screams “FOUL!”

As Cowen explains:

Trump specializes in lower-status lies, typically more of the bald-faced sort, namely stating “x” when obviously “not x” is the case. They are proclamations of power, and signals that the opinions of mainstream media and political opponents will be disregarded. The lie needs to be understood as more than just the lie. For one thing, a lot of Americans, especially many Trump supporters, are more comfortable with that style than with the “fancier” lies they believe they are hearing from the establishment.

I would frame this slightly differently. Everyone knows that politicians are acting, but if they’re caught in a moment of humanity, the cultural elite freak out:”We caught you in the lie we all knew you were telling because we’re the ones who told you to lie in the first place, so it’s not really lying, but now that you failed to maintain the facade we will bury you until you beg for mercy!” Trump tweets that elegant choreography into oblivion and people fucking love it.

Trump is a showman (like every other politician), but rather than hide it, he revels in it. He talks trash, he boasts, he preens–he’d do a shoulder shimmy and an end zone dance if he could. It may not be their style (but sometimes it is) and like all trash-talking, it can be annoying, but it’s no worse or better than that. Ordinary people don’t mind because they’re not nearly as stupid as their self-anointed betters think: “of course he’s a showman, you idiot. He runs hotels and TV shows and now he’s running for president–what do you expect?” Even if I personally prefer the staid confidence of Jerry Rice to the antics of Odell Beckham Jr., at least OBJ is being honest.

As with most things Trump, his great offense is a breach of decorum. Cowen calls it “sociological differences,” but he’s being polite. It’s simple classism. Trump broke the club rules about drinking sherry before dinner, when everyone knows that sherry is strictly a dessert wine.

Politicians are supposed to lie in certain ways, if they don’t want to be accused of lying by polite company. It’s a style that polite company use to identify themselves to one another (and how they identify the impolite folks they would never let into their club). Trump’s sin is that instead of begging for membership, he started his own wildly successful club.

A Picture of Affiliation Bias

From the cover of the New York Times:

screenshot-2017-01-16-at-1-14-32-pm

In the left corner, our 45th President, a bumbling-stumbling ball of fury, with his trademark attack on all things good and righteous! Yesterday it was THE INTELLIGENCE! Today THE CIVIL RIGHTS! What will Orange Agitator do next?!

In the right corner, is our 44th President, wizened, grey and erudite. Between fighting injustice at home and abroad, he still finds the time to enrich his mind with books! A scholar at heart, he reminds us so much of our better selves. We’ll miss our benevolent leader dearly.