The Correlation Between Fear and Stupidity

by lizard

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.”

He concluded:

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.


  1. Turner

    A belief is far more stable than an evidence-based conclusion. This seems to be universally true.

    • Steve W

      Could be a problem for long term viability, that.

      But I agree with you, it seems to be pretty widespread.

      Although I’d posit that there is substantial variance among individuals as to the the relative stability.

  2. Turner

    Well, as a species we’ve come quite a way from pond scum. But we need to evolve a bit more.

  3. I agree travel restrictions will not stop the eventual spread of Ebola. Sicken travelers will travel to South America where their spawn will do the job for them thru our fluid southern border.

    That said we can drastically reduce the invasion and the potential stress on our underprepared health systems denying passport holders from the western African nations.

  4. “Corruption kills. Stupidity kills. We have forgotten this. But in ancient times they knew better. In those primitive days the onset of plague, famine and war were often regarded by the population as a sign that heaven was wroth at its rulers for their iniquity; the bazaars were rife with rumor that the governing house was infest with debauchery, extravagance and indolence. And it was whispered about that the plague would not cease until the Royal House had amended its ways. The Chinese referred to the such blame assignments as “losing the Mandate of Heaven”.

    Modern pundits may call such beliefs ‘superstitious nonsense’, but as is usual in history, there is a grain of truth to the accounts. Plagues and famines are true consequences of corruption which can be understood for entirely secular and rational reasons. For no governing class may lie and steal and distort with impunity without the consequences coming home to roost. One day what goes around comes around. And for much of the world, that day is now.”-Fernandiz,PJMedia.

    • Anybody else see the correlation?

    • Stupid people everywhere, rise up! Swede is calling you out, hurling insults.

      (Pssssst: Don’t tell him.)

  5. Craig Moore

    Fear is but one emotion. There are many more, and they often overlap. Politicians have used emotion for as long as I remember. Emotion clouds reason followed by a reflexive jerk. All that matters is achieving the vertical head nod. As Finley Peter wrote, “Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag. ‘Tis a man’s game…” When all of the emotion puppeteers are covered in feces, claims about who smells worse are rather pointless.

  6. As I’ve said ad nauseum, public opinion is merely something that has to be managed, and not heeded. Until people get organized at the ground level and offer counter narratives to fear mongering, leaders will always be able to sell any program based on fear. Above, Swede is talking about Ebola. He’s scared, again. Fear is working, again. Ebola is nothing to fear, nor was Saddam Hissein or Osama or any other demon. But they return to that well again and again because fear sells.

    There is no counternarrative because media is monopolized and all news and entertainment outlets are “on message.” It is effectively state-controlled media, with adherence to the party line virtually unanimous.

    I remember listening to Lawrence Eagleberger on TV one time prior to the 2003 assault on Iraq, and he stated rather matter-of-factly that even though there was not much public support for an attack, in the end they would have 60-70%, and that would be enough. At that time, the scare plans were being drawn up, and the public would be drawn into Iraq based on WMD’s, a lie, but widely accepted as necessary to being the public around. That’s all news is, professional opinion management, use of fear to keep people in line.

    • I’m not scared about Ebola Mark. I’m scared about a totally inept government would will kill hundreds if not thousands thru as the author stated above, “debauchery, extravagance, and indolence.

      Even though the thought of the house cleaning Ebola would do on the unprepared and the lessons learned intrigues me my Christian upbringing forbade revengeful celebrations.

      • Both Ebola and enterovirus is tied to our immigration policy.

        “Let me emphasize something in context to your question,” Brooks said. “Immigration is part of Ebola, is a part of this new virus – I say ‘new’ in quotations marks because it’s relatively new to the degree we’ve seen it in the United States of America that taking the lives of American children, that is causing partial or complete paralysis of American children. All of this is related to immigration because some of these diseases are coming from abroad. By way of example, there was a study in 2013 – I think it was called the enterovirus that is causing the paralysis and death of young children in America – that thousands of residents of Central American countries were found with this illness over a year ago in 2013. And because the southern border is not being protected, one has to wonder whether this sudden surge of illegal alien children along with the normal numbers of illegal aliens coming into America might have contributed to the spread of this disease, which heretofore was not very widespread in the United States of America. So all of it’s tied together.”-Brooks, Rep MO.

      • You’re scared, Swede. Re-read your statement above and tell me it ain’t so.

        Your stereotypes about the abilities of governments, despite years of evidence to the contrary, speaks of a man who ain’t paying attention. Government is the only reliable source in public emergencies, which this ain’t.

        Skipped your link. Going to make that a habit. It if ain’t your words, I ain’t bothering.

        • It’s not about you Mark.

        • We saw giant turtles, Swede, and they live 200 years. They don’t do anything but eat grass and occasionally screw. For 200 years! Their brains are the size of walnuts, as it turns out, so it does not take much to keep a turtle happy. Strewn about in their habitat were copies of Atlas Shrugged.

          • Hey Narcissus.

            No one cares about your home movies.

            • Steve W

              Brains!!!!!

              • Swedey learned a new word, narcissism.

                It works like this Swede: Smart people know their capabilities and limitations. They know what they are good at and not, and also that their ideas are always subject to legitimate criticism by other smart people. It takes confidence and humility at once.

                In your mind, that comes across as egocentrism, which you’ve mistakenly labeled narcissism, probably due to a late night bar conversation. But it is not. It is merely self assurance borne of years of experience. We can swim in deep water.

                I am not a narcisist nor a genius, nor the smartest guy in the room. I merely see through you, understand you. It’s easy. You, on the other hand, do not have the ability to assess your own capabilities. You do not know your own weaknesses.

  7. Does everyone understand that Ebola is not spread via airborne means? That a healthy immune system can easily fight it before it infects? That victims can be quarantined? That even flying on an airliner with an infected person will not endanger you?

    Ebola will take its toll among those in areas with bad water and other public health issues. That’s why the solution is to advance infrastructure and health care to these regions. Of course, we need those things here too, but the areas of Africa under threat are seriously emergent.

    Here is CDC:

    Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population. CDC recognizes that Ebola causes a lot of public worry and concern, but CDC’s mission is to protect the health of all Americans, including those who may become ill while overseas. Ebola patients can be transported and managed safely when appropriate precautions are used.

    So please folks, go back to being scared of big bad ISIS and being beheaded in your sleep. Ebola ain’t gonna getcha.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Jon Tester’s G… on Senator Tester Backs Wall Stre…
    Digging Deeper: Exam… on A visit from a Montana Na…
    Washing Ton on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Manitou springs on The Dark Side of Colorado
    C. Willie on American Poets: Robinson …
    C. Willie on American Poets: Robinson …
    bretagnebk on The Dark Side of Colorado
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,636,122 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,732 other followers

  • October 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Sep   Nov »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • Categories


%d bloggers like this: