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Friday, May 3, 2024

"It doesn't matter what’s true." Schemas predominantly matter in political discourse.

OK, gotta admit, I'm now a major-league Brian Klaas Fan Boy in the wake of reading his book.

Zuck was right. "Young people are just smarter."

Well, some of them.
So, Brian has a Substack (of course). I subscribed (and paid, notwithstanding my prevailing dubiety; it's a wimpy authoring platform, generally). 

I ran across this today.
Schemas and the Political Brain
Understanding how cognitive shortcuts work when processing new information is crucial to understanding modern politics—and it's a facet of cognition that Republicans manipulate extremely effectively.

Republicans have battered Democrats on messaging in recent years because they intuitively understand schemas in a way that Democrats often don’t.

What is a schema?

The word schema comes from the Greek schēmat or schēma, which means “form.” But the concept in its modern usage refers to patterns of thought that provide intellectual shortcuts for processing the information we encounter in our lives. Think of it a bit like your brain’s organizational system, which structures our knowledge, old and new. To organize vast quantities of data, we need to sort everything into categories and patterns, with simplified assumptions.

The whole world we experience is, in a sense, a giant set of data. When you go for a walk, the amount of data your brain encounters is overwhelming—the shade of color on every leaf, the patterns of cracks on the sidewalk, the faces of every person you encounter, what they’re wearing, and whether they smiled at you as you went past.

It would be impossible for your brain to process and retain all that information, particularly because most of it provides little value to you. You don’t need to recall in vivid detail whether a random woman you once walked past was wearing a hat or not. As a result, the brain does a bit of intellectual triage, where most of the information we process about the world is culled and discarded. It’s a highly efficient way of dealing with and navigating an immeasurably complex world. Our brains have evolved to process information this way because it helps us survive, able to retain what matters and forget what doesn’t...
Yeah, heuristics & stuff. Type I & Type II thinking, etc. 
Brian sums up...
How to use schemas

The lesson, then, is not that fact-based arguments are meaningless in politics, but rather that facts are most effective when they’re nestled within a ready-made intellectual framework for how to make sense of the world. Effective political movements use facts to reinforce schemas, but they understand that the schemas are what matter most. It’s a depressing truth, but getting the right taglines, slogans, and vivid ways of presenting political opponents is often far more important than being right.

So, if Democrats want to loosen Trump’s grip on the modern GOP, then the messaging needs to match the audience, while recognizing the schemas that Trump’s voters are using to process reality. Democrats can shout from the rooftops about how Trump is a racist authoritarian tax dodger who poses an existential threat to American democracy (facts that are certainly worth repeating!). But no matter how loudly those arguments are repeated, voters in the GOP base use schemas that simply don’t have a place for those facts. They’ll ignore them, dismiss them, contort themselves with brain gymnastics until they end up in a position where they remain comfortable within their existing cognitive framework.

What’s more likely to be effective to sway the MAGA base is to brand Trump as a loser, partly because that does fit with Republican schemas, and partly because it’s a direct attack on the schema that Trump has tried to cultivate for himself for his entire life — that he’s a winner who lives in a golden penthouse, a strategic genius who always ends up on top.

If you really want to destroy someone in politics, don’t attack them with a barrage of facts and decimal points, change the fundamental way that their own supporters perceive them. The path to political victory runs, to an astonishing degree, through psychology and neuroscience. That way true power lies.
OK. lots to remark upon. Goes to a lot of prior topics here. to wit,

Having to go back and re-study this beaut.

Kathryn rocks.
This delightful person (a Twitter/X fellow-traveler) started me down this latest rabbit hole.
to wit,
2 Core Rules:
The fallibilist rule: No one gets the final say. You may claim that a statement is established as knowledge only if it can be debunked, in principle, and only insofar as it withstands attempts to debunk it.

The empirical rule: No one has personal authority. You may claim that a statement has been established as knowledge only insofar as the method to check it gives the same result regardless of the identity of the checker, and regardless of the source of the statement.

10 Commitments:
The ethos that any of us might be wrong thus we strive to keep our ideas open to criticism.

Understanding that truth is not based on feeling, identity, or a person's/group’s lived experience.

A commitment to the idea of objective reality because what lies beyond that is chaos.

A commitment that all ideas and viewpoints are subject to challenge by the community.

A commitment to offering our ideas for critique in good faith and acknowledge when we’re wrong.

Valuing viewpoint diversity and a commitment to encourage, and seek it out.

A commitment to discourage and avoid personal attacks and, instead, depersonalize rhetoric.

A commitment to valuing the credentials and reputations of this reality-based community.

A commitment to valuing and relying upon established norms and codes of conduct.

No Bullshitting
A commitment to sincerely regard the truth instead of obscuring it.
Well, "scientific method," anyone?  Likin' the "civility" reference in particular. "Pluralism?" I'm in, notwithstanding its political contentiousness of late (e.g., DEI).

These topics also have me recalling the excellent work of Zoe Chance.

More shortly...

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