I was listening to National Public Radio’s (NPR) afternoon/evening fake news program, laughably called “All Things Considered,” when on came a feature decrying people’s tendency to consume mainly, or only, news sources congenial to their point of view. This tendency is called engaging in “confirmation bias.”
The NPR anchorette, Kelly McEvers, interviewed Cass Sunstein, famous hard leftist from academia, who opined that people who engage in confirmation bias are “bad for democracy.” Because, you see, their tendency to consume only information sources that support their points of view tends to make them only more extreme.
He didn’t realize that he was perfectly describing the people of his own belief system. How can I say that? Easy: we on the right have no choice but to hear all the left’s messages. If we want to hear something congenial to our belief systems, we have to dig to seek out those sources. Otherwise we bathe in a warm bath of runny, slimy, left-wing spittle 24/7/365.
Trust me, we on the right know what and how the left are thinking.
Otherwise stated: if people of a leftist thought tendency want to find out sources of information that compete with their own, they really have to work at it. Us on the right? Turn on the tv. Or the radio. Or pick up a newspaper. Just about any newspaper and there it is. For the kids, talk to any teacher.
This, by the way, is much less true today … thanks to the left, and mindless ideologues like the people at NPR.
Why? Well: the aforementioned ubiquitous runny bath of warm left-wing spittle is the reason for the rise of the Conservative media. People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, G. Gordon Liddy came to prominence because their voices were shut out of the newsroom. When they arrived on the scene, tens of millions of unabashedly patriotic, small-government, religious Conservatives finally heard voices speaking to them. When Conservative talk radio and television arrived on the scene, there was a ready-made market of tens of millions begging to hear someone who made some sense, and who didn’t spout the same old, tired, leftist flapdoodle that they knew in their hearts and minds to be untrue. The left created the market for the spectacularly successful Conservative media that today is eating their lunch.
This is all the left-wing media’s own fault. After all, I always know what I’m going to hear on ABC-NBC-CBS-MSNBC-NPR-CNN: Trump comes out with this initiative or that executive order — you can name it: travel ban, repeal Obamacare, reduce regulations strangling America, deport illegal immigrant felons, etc. — and out come the media unanimously shrieking about just how horrible it all is, and here are all the wide-eyed, innocent people whose lives will be ruined as a result.
Just as during the Obama years, any of President Obama’s initiatives would be greeted with applause, with enthusiastic outpourings of approval, and with an endless line of commentators ready immediately to label someone as racist if he were to oppose the plan.
So, tell me, why would I go listen to a “news organization” when I already know what I’m going to hear; ie: nothing actually new.
I’ve been listening to NPR now for more than 40 years, and I can tell you, chapter and verse, what they’re going to say about anything long before they ever say it. One hundred percent of the time. I listen to them so that nobody can accuse me of never listening to other points of view.
However, one thing that Sunstein said is true: people increasingly engage in confirmation bias, and that is a bad thing. We all should debate and exchange ideas regularly with people who disagree with us. Politely, respectfully, but enthusiastically. If I have a stupid state of mind, or idea, or belief, or thought, I want to get rid of it. If you can prove me wrong about something, I’m really grateful to you.
Testing your ideas is good. Reinforcing your ideas is good too. But only reinforcing your thinking, without testing it against those who disagree with you is bad. Very bad. It’s how your thinking gets tired, old, flabby, fat and feeble. Thinking is like any human activity: it needs exercise, or it gets lazy. It’s how the left is. You and I both know it. Leftists don’t engage with those who disagree with them; they browbeat, insult, slander, libel and attack them … If you were to engage only in confirmation bias, you’d end up like a leftist: old, stupid, crabby, paranoid and humorless.
There is a very simple solution though, and it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious that Cass Sunstein and NPR were unable to come up with it. Hilarious, but not unexpected. Cass Sunstein’s thinking is old, flabby, weak, flaccid, stupid. It’s why he was unable to think of the only real, and obvious solution to confirmation bias.
Instead, Sunstein said, right-leaning people should seek out “liberals who could hold some credibility for them and follow them on Twitter and in social media, etc.”(1) And, he said, “left-leaning people should do likewise with Conservative commentators.”
Well, again, we on the right don’t have to. We can’t escape the lefty commentary and the fake news emanating from the left.
The target audience for Sunstein’s prescription would actually be his own fellow leftists, who are already swaddled in a warm, comfy blankie of left-wing messages that confirm their own biases.
No, the solution is a lot easier than that, and we on the right have been saying that it needs to be done for a very long time.
Here it is: Implement actual diversity in American newsrooms. The only diversity that actually counts: diversity of thought.
And I know — 100% sure — it would work. How can I say that? Well, use me as an example. If I knew that say, roughly 50% of the content on ABC-NBC-CBS-MSNBC-NPR-CNN, would be challenging, stimulating, informative and hmm-inducing — which you can hear only on Conservative media today — I’d tune in enthusiastically! And I’d even watch other features of theirs as well to see how “my side” reacted to the news of the day. In other words, you’d make these other news and information broadcasts interesting finally.
Let’s say that you peel off only 15 percent of FOX News’ viewers by adding actual, genuine, no-foolin’ diversity to your presentation. Well, how many of the ABC-NBC-CBS-MSNBC-NPR-CNN gang would give their eyeteeth to do that? (Answer: all of them) And as soon as one of them did it, the others would quickly follow suit, because the first one would swell its audience immensely overnight .
Don’t hold your breath, though… it won’t happen anytime soon. What has to happen is for someone on the left with half-a-brain to muse to himself, “Say, I wonder what would happen if we were to mix it up and let Conservatives have some real air time on our network.”
The problem is finding someone with half-a-brain on the left. When and if they do find him, he’ll be in the pasture talking with the unicorn and Santa Claus.
(1) I was tempted to react: “Yuh. Liberals with credibility. I’ll look for them them at the same time I’m searching for unicorns.” But that’s the point. That’s how the left thinks. There are leftists who sincerely believe as they believe, and from occasionally well fleshed-out reasoning. I happen to think they’re generally wrong, but they can be persuasive. Furthermore, I used to be a leftist too… in my much younger days. I really needed to be disabused of some really silly notions I had, and I was able to shed those weird ideas by engaging with people who disagreed with me.