The Correlation Between Fear and Stupidity
If fear makes people stupid, then Americans are probably the stupidest people on the planet. Stupid enough to still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 six years after invading and occupying Iraq? Yep:
Sociologists at the University of North Carolina and Northwestern University examined an earlier case of deep commitment to the inaccurate: the belief, among many conservatives who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, that Saddam Hussein was at least partly responsible for the attacks on 9/11.
Of 49 people included in the study who believed in such a connection, only one shed the certainty when presented with prevailing evidence that it wasn’t true.
The rest came up with an array of justifications for ignoring, discounting or simply disagreeing with contrary evidence — even when it came from President Bush himself.
Of our two worthless political parties, I think it’s safe to say Republicans are way better at scaring themselves stupid. Here are some of the ways 48 stupid people were able to insulate themselves from the reality that America went to war in Iraq based on lies:
By the time the interviews were conducted, just before the 2004 election, the Bush Administration was no longer muddling a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraq war. The researchers chose the topic because, unlike other questions in politics, it had a correct answer.
Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: “This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda.”
The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.
“Well, I bet they say that the commission didn’t have any proof of it,” one subject responded, “but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.”
Reasoned another: “Saddam, I can’t judge if he did what he’s being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it.”
Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?
The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.
Fear is of course used by both political parties. Democrats, for example, don’t have a lot to offer these days except fear of Republicans. But Democrats are way behind when it comes to exploiting fear for political gain. When it comes to using fear, Republicans are number 1, as evidenced by the merging of ISIS and ebola into one of the stupidest alleged threats facing America:
A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”
“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.
NewsMaxTV cited Al Shimkus, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, who said last week that that ISIS fighters could infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to U.S. as a form of biological warfare.
Johnson said America should be preparing to defend ourselves against such a scenario, calling it “a real and present danger.”
“You really don’t even want to think about,” he said. “You really don’t even want to talk about, but we should do everything possible to defend ourselves against that possibility because I think that is a real and present danger.”
In lighit of this idiocy, merely advocating for a travel ban appears tame in comparison, but the outcome will be anything but. Here is a dude at Fox news acknowledging the travel ban would be worthless and possibly dangerous, but then he concludes we should do it anyway:
Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel came out in favor of a travel ban Thursday, arguing in the National Review that it would be impossible to enforce, utterly pointless, and potentially dangerous. If that sentence makes no sense, you’re in the same camp as the rest of us.
Siegel conceded the arguments, well-aired but not yet well-believed, that a travel ban would exacerbate the ebola outbreak by making potential carriers harder to trace, not to mention fomenting panic and distrust in the west African countries where the virus festers.
But, Siegel said, “we must worry about our own public psyche here in the United States. If our leaders can’t give us a sense that we are protected, we must achieve it by imposing a ban.”
I’m not convinced medically — I don’t believe that a travel ban against the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa will be particularly effective, it may even be counterproductive, and it certainly isn’t coming from the strongest side of what being an American means. But as fear of Ebola and fear of our leaders’ ineptitude grows, I think we must have a ban to patch our battered national psyche.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. But hey, Americans are scared, so let’s do it anyway.
Big Swede—the poster child for Republican, fear-based stupidity—has this comment in the last post:
Travel bans are inevitable. Either as a last minute “save” to at risk Dem incumbents or the threat of multiple lawsuits and costs incurred by Ebola laden air travelers.
Privately or by Governmental decree a couple more Duncans combined with chasing down of numerous passenger lists the flights will stop.
This comment isn’t as stupid as one may think at first glance. The second sentence seemingly acknowledges the travel ban is a political tool to effect political outcomes in the midterm elections, which is absolutely accurate. Sprinkle on some fear of litigation and the potential for travel restrictions does seem to be inevitable.
Unfortunately, stopping flights won’t stop the spread of Ebola. Explaining that to conservatives, though, may be like trying to tell them Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
Is there a fix for stupid? I sure hope so.