Confirmation Bias, Donald Trump, and Thinking for Yourself

In a cultural and media environment in which conservatives are a decisive minority, it’s only natural to fall prey to confirmation bias.  Most of us pick friends with similar interests and values, so hearing media personalities espouse what we believe is comforting, especially to conservatives, who are conditioned to scorn and ridicule from the cool kids in traditional news outlets and entertainment.

Because we feel like a persecuted minority, there is a temptation toward checking our critical thinking skills at the door.  We were so grateful to the new conservative media for breaking through and presenting our beliefs in a positive light, we didn’t notice when conservatism became big money. We gloated about its success, and we thought it was successful because it was conservative.  We celebrated it as a tool to educate and build a majority, so we didn’t notice the tables turned – when we became the tools, and conservative media began to tailor its content not to espouse conservatism as a philosophy per se, but to attract and keep a large audience.

I’m not sure when that transition occurred (and maybe it was that way from the start), but it didn’t occur to most of us that we were being sold to, rather than being sold (which, come to think of it, is kind of surprising, given that we all advocate a free market and capitalism).

Many, including several writers at RedState, have pointed to the conservative media and its quest for profits as a large factor in how we ended up saddled with Donald Trump, the worst nominee in the history of the Republican Party. As valid and worthwhile as that point may be, I would like to add one more: we should always question the media, whatever it is, whether it’s on “our” side or not.

Pay attention to that nagging voice in the back of your head when you’re reading a column, listening to the radio, or watching FoxNews.  It’s warning you that maybe you’re being sold a bill of goods.  It’s your BS detector.  Always think for yourself.  Don’t support an idea, a particular position on an issue, or a political candidate when you have that nagging doubt.  Like Mama said, don’t jump off that building just because everyone else is doing it. Don’t give into peer pressure.

We became conservatives because we think for ourselves.  Don’t give that up…ever.  Not for Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, or the talking heads on FoxNews.  God gave you a brain for a reason.  No one speaks for you but you.

One other thing: the writers here at RedState and The Resurgent have earned my deep respect and admiration for standing on principle regarding Trump.  The pressure to bow and scrape to Trump is enormous.  They are doing conservatism a great service by being vocal, even if others don’t see it that way right now.  And, no, I don’t agree with them on every issue…but I do agree with them on this one.