Hello! My name is Carter Block and my question is around a problem I’ve been thinking about for a long time now, but it was around 2015 that I really started to ponder it. While the origin of my question does involve politics, I am not interested in forming a partisan attack on one of our many (2 possible) parties in the United States. This is because that, even though I hate the phrase “both sides” I will use it, after noticing and criticizing the “other” side for it I looked around at “my” side, I saw a lot of it there as well.
But now for my question you’ve been waiting for: “Why do people reject reality, sometimes for a narrative that doesn’t even benefit them?” I’m not talking about people that are crazy, I’m not talking about conspiracy theories (but they are related), I’m talking about people that see 2 + 2 = 4 and say “that’s wrong.” This also isn’t about the easy answers, I’m interested in learning about why the everyday people may act like this and more ways to tell how much I still act like this. I know that a lot of it can be boiled down to “bias” but I feel that the word “bias” doesn’t strongly enough convey the right feeling because I also think it’s not just bias but maybe some apathy as well. Making decisions can be pretty hard and sometimes it’s just a lot easier to listen to someone else, especially when you maybe aren’t directly affected.
I became very aware of this problem a bit before the 2016 Presidential election and I think most of us could guess the person in question that really made me think about this, well it’s more like their ardent supporters really made me start thinking. I will harp on these people for a bit because it really is what got this whole train rolling. Now I don’t remember what news program it was that I was watching, I do vividly remember this specific interview. The interviewer was talking to a woman who was introduced as a single mother that worked multiple jobs for her family. It was a fairly bog standard interview about her decision and who she wanted to vote for, and to be honest I wasn’t actually paying that much attention to her answers until she said “I just feel like he’s in touch with my struggles.” That was when I spun around in my chair and was confused because the man in question was a guy that has a golden toilet in his gold penthouse in (I think) the most expensive area to live in the United States and she had just said she thought he was “in touch” with the day to day struggles she faced. Now I’m not one of those people that feels that certain groups should only vote one way, but I was stumped at trying to figure out how she came to her decision that this guy was “in touch”, especially after he was recorded saying “grab ’em by the pussy.” This really was the moment that made go “What???”
So yeah that’s a lot, but to reiterate the question that I want to pursue, “Why do people reject reality, sometimes for a narrative that doesn’t even benefit them?”