Friday, May 25, 2012

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

A riddle for you: Who's got two thumbs and is busily spending millions of dollars in anonymous donationsto promulgate lies about the Obama Administration?

Question of the Day:  Why do people believe things that are not true?

I ask this because apparently Rove thinks that people are willing to believe that:

1.  The Obama Administration increased spending markedly, 

2.  The Obama Administration has lost jobs, and 

3.  The Obama Administration increased taxes...

...When none of those things are true.

Now, I love a good chart or graph.  Seriously, have you seen that episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Marshall goes chart and graph crazy?

I'm Marshall.

Just look at those comparatively frugal Dems...

...And look, lots of jobs created in the private sector in the last two years...

...And the lowest taxes since Truman...

Now I'm not a psychologist, and I couldn't find anything good on point, but from my own experience I'd say that one reason people believe things that are not true is prejudice.  Not like racial prejudice here, instead I'm talking about the fact that we walk into any given situation with our own beliefs and experiences - our own baggage that impacts how we see the world and the actions of others, etc.

When we do not have specific information, as is often the case on public policy specifics, our preconceived notions trump.

One of those things that we tend to think is that Democrats believe in government spending and that taxes should pay for that government spending.  There are reasonable reasons for that belief - modern Democrats do tend to believe in a larger domestic role for the government than modern Republicans - Democrats generally want more regulation, more federal programs to aid the poor and education, and federal authority on matters like civil rights.  And Democrats are certainly more likely to believe in raising taxes than Republicans- right now anyway.  That is starting to change, but so far only for lower-income people, as Rs start talking about "broadening the tax base" - a euphemism for raising taxes on lower-income working people by substantially reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit.

And for reasons that completely evade me, people believe that Republicans are better at handling the economy.  Even though almost two-thirds of private-sector job growth in the past 50 years occurred while there was a Democrat in the White House.  Maybe it's because Rs say they are better with the economy all the time and if you say it enough people do accept some part of it into their consciousness.

People can also believe things that are not true when somebody lies convincingly to them.  Like when people watch Fox News, which is at the very least news that pushes a given ideological agenda (and at most is purposefully misinforming people), they are less informed than people who watch no news at all....  And more people are getting their news from cable news than any other source...  And Fox has been the top-rated cable news network for ten years.

But whatever the reasons, President Obama has a steep hill to climb.  He's got to not only make his case on what he wants to do next, he's got to get across to the American people what he has actually done and not done, and he has to do all of that in a world of unlimited, anonymous money moving from various and sundry right-wing billionaires to people like the Snidely Whiplashian Mr. Rove.


  1. Oh hey I like charts and graphs! Here are some of my favorites:

    Oh, and the spending argument from that Marketwatch article, parroted by the Obama administration, got "Three Pinocchios" out of four from the Washington Post's Fact Checker:

    Meaning, it's basically a lie. Why DO people believe things like this that aren't true? I think you're right - preconceived notions and prejudice - like Republicans are evil liars.

  2. Aw, you read it!

    I couldn't find the first link, it wouldn't come up for me. What did it say?

    The Market Watch thing, yes, there was apparently a questionable claim in the original info on the spending growth chart, but even if you take that into account, that still puts Obama at a lower rate of spending growth than either Reagan or W -

    And most Republicans are very nice people, but Karl Rove is not. He is a lying liar.