[Link] Salon piece analyzing Donald Trump's appeal using rationality

post by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T04:36:50.651Z · score: -9 (15 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 65 comments

I'm curious about your thoughts on my piece in Salon analyzing Trump's emotional appeal using rationality-informed ideas. My primary aim is using the Trump hook to get readers to consider the broader role of Systems 1 and 2 in politics, the backfire effect, wishful thinking, emotional intelligence, etc.

 

 

65 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T04:55:02.476Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I like, especially given that the article is in left-wing Salon, that you didn't feel the need to signal that Trump is evil. This article manages to avoid the normal mind-kill of politics.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T16:09:43.717Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, and I appreciate your feedback on the draft, which helped improve the piece. Yeah, this is rare for a Salon piece that deals with Trump - most are really mindkill. I fought with the editors to make the headline less mindkillery than they wanted it to make.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-24T06:53:39.121Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I start twitching when emphatic statements are made about the motivations of large numbers of people. How can you check on whether you're right?

This being said, Sanders is also appealing to anger and fear, and both candidates are also appealing to hope.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T16:59:26.353Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Gleb's article is about as rigorous as a (non-famous) academic author can be to still get published in the popular press.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-24T18:03:12.243Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Um, no, unless your definition of "popular press" excludes things like the New York Times and the like. A random sprinkling of buzzwords is not rigor.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-24T17:10:48.090Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Would he be allowed to add a link or two for people who want more background?

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T17:22:25.700Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I actually had to struggle to get them to put in as many links as they allowed. They wanted links to Salon pieces, while I kept insisting on making more links to academic pieces. It's always a trade-off when going to a popular source like Salon, and James is right, it is about as rigorous as one can get in a venue like Salon. These are the trade-offs that are required if one chooses to spread rationality broadly.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T18:10:59.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Editors often remove links and usually don't like there being too many.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T16:07:23.743Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nancy, I could have certainly made similar points about Sanders, although less emphatically. To some extent, all candidates are appealing to anger and fear, although Trump is the clearest and most strident example. This is why at the end of the article, I noted that "he is not the only candidate doing so. Whatever candidate you are considering, my fellow Americans, I hope you deploy intentional thinking and avoid the predictable errors in making your political decisions."

Good question on checking whether I'm right. I didn't go into this in depth in the source, due to space limitations, but I read quite a bit of primary sources of why people are voting for Trump. I have a scholarly background in studying emotions and deployed that methodology for studying this topic.

comment by Thomas · 2016-04-24T17:47:20.876Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Should we expect your Anti-Trump campaigning here until November, or what?

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T18:13:37.321Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I will probably vote for Trump if he wins the Republican nomination, and I don't think the article was anti-Trump.

comment by Thomas · 2016-04-25T09:16:14.998Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am not an American and I'll not vote. I hate the intelligentsia's attitude toward the man.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T17:53:49.555Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you think my goal is to get people on Less Wrong to change their minds about Trump, you're modeling me incorrectly.

I shared my goal in the post, namely to use topical news events - whether Trump or anything else - to promote rationality. If Trump is the button to push that gets rationality out there, then that's the button I push.

comment by Dustin · 2016-04-24T15:12:50.809Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

the elite are against it while everyone else is for it

You're living in a filter bubble if you think this.

comment by Dustin · 2016-05-04T22:06:13.907Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure why I got downvoted for this. Unless you define "elite" as those against it, this statement is clearly untrue.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-24T18:58:48.006Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think Salon would publish a piece about how to check on what you read?

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T20:36:27.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While James' answer was somewhat cynical, I suspect he's not far from the mark. If it fits into a liberal narrative, and pushes the right emotional buttons, they might publish it.

comment by Furcas · 2016-04-26T15:04:13.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you already have something written on the subject? I'd like to read it.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-26T16:58:12.929Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No. It would probably be worth doing but difficult, since evaluating truth or at least plausibility depends on a complex web of assumptions.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T20:09:19.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes if you could fit it into some kind of social justice narrative such as how to decode if the author is a secret racist.

comment by shminux · 2016-04-24T04:57:13.559Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You seem to be making the same points Scott Adams has been making since last August. I'm surprised you didn't quote or link his blog.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T16:08:37.658Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yup, Scott Adams and I have been making similar points for a while now. The Salon editors didn't want a link to that source, though.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-24T17:01:08.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not surprising given how much Scott Adams is hated by social justice types.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T17:20:10.828Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had to fight to get that many links to academic sources, they wanted more links to previous Salon pieces

comment by [deleted] · 2016-05-01T04:02:21.361Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, the problem with all the pieces that focus on Trump's style is that they completely ignore his substance. Trump's position on immigration is only "controversial" in the sense that the elite are against it while everyone else is for it. Thus it's not surprising that Trump is doing well. In fact looking at other western countries we see parties with similar positions doing well despite having styles that are all over the place.

Original thread here.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-25T04:21:28.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This comment was -3 karma last time I looked. Now, it's +6. Given its extremist language, I decided to look up this account. Having looked at the history of this account, I'm pretty since it's another Eugene Neir sock puppet. Hope you had fun voting down this post, Eugene Neir - reported to the admin.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T16:32:35.341Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

everyone else is for it

Evidence?

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2016-04-24T19:39:11.799Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

According to Pew Research Center, "More than eight-in-ten Republicans (84%) say the nation should impose tighter restrictions on immigration, compared with about six-in-ten Democrats (58%)."

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T20:37:43.573Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't seem like "everyone" to me, unless you count 16% of Republicans and 42% of Democrats as "elite."

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-25T10:28:39.281Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so it's not "everyone", but it's a majority.

So you have a majority of voters wanting something, a politician saying he will deliver, the politician has wide support... and this all makes the voters irrational because... uhm... because neuroscience explains that the voters actually have emotions, oh the horrors!

I suppose next time I care about something, I should vote for a politician who promises the exact opposite, so that no neuroscientist can suspect me of being a helpless victim of my own opinions. /s

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-26T02:31:52.104Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think we have some slippage of concepts here. The majority of voters want tighter restrictions, but only half agree with Trump's position on a ban on Muslim migration.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-04-27T03:12:12.927Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

From the article you linked:

While 71 percent of Republican voters supported the ban

I don't believe any other Republican has supported the ban, so that the issue is an overwhelming win for Trump in the Republican Party.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-27T03:23:04.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yup, agreed it's a win for him in the Republican party.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-05-01T04:01:47.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the "rationality" of the piece is rather dubious. For example consider your description of the "backfire effect":

For instance, Mitt Romney condemned Trump as a “phony” and “fraud” shortly before the March 15 primaries. This type of attack only strengthens the emotional desire to vote for Trump among anti-establishment voters by triggering a thinking error called the backfire effect — a tendency for our beliefs to grow stronger when they are challenged by contradictory evidence.

Except Romney wasn't presenting evidence, he was making an assertion. And in a lot of circumstances it is perfectly rational to update away from assertions.

More generally, in a lot of cases you describe acting on fear as irrational even though the fear in question is perfectly rational.

Original thread here.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-25T12:43:36.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why isn't this thread in the outreach thread?

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-26T02:33:24.679Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Outreach thread is for stuff that does not have potential for good discussion, but is just about successful outreach. I posted this here because it seems like it had potential for an interesting discussion.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-26T13:25:13.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Did you expect another reaction in the karma that the post received?

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-26T18:06:52.338Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hard to say how representative that karma is, considering that Eugene Neir is involved.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-26T18:32:22.177Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it makes sense to blame all lowly voted posts on Eugine. I don't also remember Eugine being involved in the discussion about InIn, so I don't see it as a his fight.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-26T23:01:53.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In his persona as VoiceOfRa and Azathoth123 and The_Lion, he was heavily involved with criticizing InIn-related posts. Heck, he even tried to wipe the Intentional Insights wiki entry.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-27T10:32:48.342Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, I stand corrected on that point.

Still the post is at -11 while most of the post on which Eugine voted don't get that many downvotes. If the post had 13 downvotes and 2 upvotes and 3 upvotes are from Eugine that would still mean that the LW community doesn't really appreciate it.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-27T16:05:51.617Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, good point, I will update on that.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-26T19:38:35.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He got involved in two of Gleb's posts, both of which got heavier-than-normal downvoting.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-25T04:22:50.200Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And given the grammar and back history of this user, I'm pretty since it's another Eugene Neir sock puppet. Also reported to the admin.

comment by knb · 2016-04-25T07:47:03.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or maybe he was referencing how the Poles' polls are indeed very anti-immigration. ;-)

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T20:38:30.644Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm glad we can agree that it's evidence, and that's the sense in which I was using it

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-24T16:13:04.271Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused about your definition of evidence. Romney was presenting evidence of his viewpoint on Trump, and was expecting voters to trust his viewpoint as it was evidence of what a mainstream prominent Republican thought about Trump. How is that not evidence?

comment by flame2 · 2016-04-25T22:48:32.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Romney was presenting evidence of his viewpoint on Trump, and was expecting voters to trust his viewpoint as it was evidence of what a mainstream prominent Republican thought about Trump. How is that not evidence?

Yes, if you look at it that way it is indeed evidence. In particular it's evidence of Trump's claim to be anti-establishment.