Trump’s best shot at reelection is false-consensus effect

Thinking back to Obama’s campaign for reelection, I recall much talk about how incompetent, evil, and terrible a president he was from his opposition. Not Romney directly but the his likely voters on social media. To the point of Romney feeling moral obligation to defend Obama as not that bad of a person to his own voters. There were daily negative stories about Obama culminating in Benghazi.

Depending on where you sat, most people agreed with either his incompetence or shrewdness. This agreement blinds us to reality.

false-consensus effect

the tendency to assume that one’s own opinions, beliefs, attributes, or behaviors are more widely shared than is actually the case. A robustly demonstrated phenomenon, the false-consensus effect is often attributed to a desire to view one’s thoughts and actions as appropriate, normal, and correct

APA Dictionary

During this time of pandemic, I am seeing a spinning up of negative social media posts about Trump from his opposition. (Even worse than when I wrote Gotcha jerks part I & part II) And an equally defensive amount from his party members. My guess is he will get about the same turnout if this continues just from voters being upset at his unfair* treatment by the opposition.

* Unfair: they will think no one deserves that harsh treatment. Nevermind Obama and Hillary got the same level.

Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

The ‘Other Side’ Is Not Dumb

I suspect these attacks make Trump’s opposition think good people in no way can justify voting for him. Even as his supporters think only deplorable people would vote against him given these attacks. Both a walking blind. Because we have defined ourselves by our political beliefs.

Perhaps the two most important things to know about the false consensus effect have to do with its potency.  First, false consensus effects still exist for important or self-defining beliefs.  Second, neither education about the false consensus itself nor large rewards for accuracy seem to eliminate the false consensus effect.  This bias is hard to eliminate.   

Your opinions are not as popular as you think they are

Then there are the bots agitating both sides making this effect worse by polluting the newsfeeds with more people agreeing. It is just a mess. And few seem aware of just how they are being manipulated by their biases.

Books and FCB

I sent my Recommendations post as a response to something on Facebook.

In the aftermath, it made me realize some things.

  • The false consensus effect which is why we are tempted to think others agree with us about political stances is what also causes us to expect others we like like the same books, TV shows, etc. The post I’d sent was my musing about disliking it that others do this in an effort to justify to myself fighting my own temptations to do it. FCB was not in my vocabulary when I wrote that post.
  • Subjectivity leads to diversity. Coming from the standpoint that my friends like strange things leads to trying things outside my normal self-imposed bounds. I dislike some chicklit and lie some others. I’ve got to try something new to find out whether or not I like it.
  • Subjectivity leads to better friendships. Trying things my friends recommend leads to better understanding my friends and myself. If something leads me to better understand my friends because even though I do not like it but I can see why  my friends do, then I feel the risk worth reading books I hate.