Trump’s base mindset/cult and the Dunning-Kruger effect

CNN / YouTube Hispanic Trump fan Donald is an...
CNN / YouTube

Many have been proposing that Trump’s base is like a cult since before that day in November 2016. A personality cult? For some.  A religious cult?  Some fundies think he was sent by G.d. His personality cult went on steroids when he started leading the birtherism movement back in 2011 as you can see in this toxic The View video where he also hinted at running.

The November midterms are a pivotal moment in our history as the battles of Yorktown, Gettysburg and Midway were.  When you go into battle it helps to understand your enemy, both its capabilities and its mindset.

                             Blue Oyster Cult

I am not a psychologist, far from it, but I look around.  I started looking around when Scientology tried to recruit me back in 1976.  I was a programmer in a tech company.  I did not know my boss was one of them.  As time passed one by one my fellow programmers started becoming Scientologists.  So I got a copy of Dianetics and read it.  I was shocked.  I looked around some more and I came across a book on brainwashing, cults and deprogramming.  I needed my job so I came up with a plan.  I bought a poster of Blue Oyster Cult and pinned it on my cubicle.  Whenever one of the converted came to invite me I just told them that I belonged to a cult already.  It worked.  Thankfully I soon got another job.

35 years later, I got into a live-in relationship that lasted 5 years with an actress (who an ex-Kossack introduced me to) that had escaped from Scientology, a harrowing escape that can be googled.  During this time, I sold a very significant computer system to Scientology while I managed to hide my relationship with her from them.  But I did have to attend their annual meeting where I was the only non-Scientologist in a VIP box.

Scientology annual meeting
Scientology annual meeting

Over the years I have learned a lot about cults and not just Scientology.

One of the things I realized is that actors and computer programmers are the key targets of scientology.  Programmers have high IQs and general knowledge but typically low EQs (emotional quotient) on the average and many feel disconnected with society.  Actors are the antithesis of programmers, with high EQs but low general knowledge, again on the average.  As a computer geek who has lived near Hollywood for decades I know this.

No wonder Scientology targets actors and geeks.

Recently, in the Twitter feed of another ex-Kossack I stumbled on this article;

A Neuroscientist Explains How Trump Supporters Are Easily Hoodwinked Because of This One Psychological Problem

In the past, some prominent psychologists have explained President Donald Trump’s unwavering support by alluding to a well-established psychological phenomenon known as the “Dunning-Kruger effect.” The effect is a type of cognitive bias, where people with little expertise or ability assume they have superior expertise or ability. This overestimation occurs as a result of the fact that they don’t have enough knowledge to know they don’t have enough knowledge. Or, stated more harshly, they are “too dumb to know they are dumb.” This simple but loopy concept has been demonstrated dozens of times in well-controlled psychology studies and in a variety of contexts. However, until now, the effect had not been studied in one of the most obvious and important realms—political knowledge.

Hoodwinked is not brainwashed, but if you are hoodwinked every day you will be brainwashed unless you know you are being hoodwinked. That is what Faux News and others ranging from Alex Jones to Rush Limbaugh in right-wing media do to them every day.

This is the key graphic that explains the Dunning-Kruger effect;

Dunning Kruger
Dunning-Kruger effect

A new study published in the journal Political Psychology, carried out by the political scientist Ian Anson at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, not only found that the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to politics, it also appears to be exacerbated when partisan identities are made more salient. In other words, those who score low on political knowledge tend to overestimate their expertise even more when greater emphasis is placed on political affiliation.

While the results of Anson’s study suggest that being uninformed leads to overconfidence across the political spectrum, studies have shown that Democrats now tend to be generally more educated than Republicans, making the latter more vulnerable to the Dunning-Kruger effect. In fact, a Pew Research Center poll released in March of this year found that 54 percent of college graduates identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, compared to 39 percent who identified or leaned Republican.

Perhaps this helps explain why Trump supporters seem to be so easily tricked into believing obvious falsehoods when their leader delivers his “alternative facts” sprinkled with language designed to activate partisan identities. Because they lack knowledge but are confident that they do not, they are less likely than others to actually fact-check the claims that the President makes.

This blog connects someone’s experience in a cult with Dunning-Kruger;

Coming to Grips with my 30 Years in a Cult. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Clearly, this was (and is) a problem among cult members. How could I know what I didn’t know? This, of course, was exacerbated by the confirmation bias, as I accepted information that confirmed my beliefs, interpreted ambiguous information as confirming my beliefs, and rationalized away any information that might threaten my beliefs. This accumulation of false and misinterpreted information only served to strengthen my confidence in my faith.

Considering all this, it’s a wonder anyone can leave such a group. Thankfully, I did, but that story is yet to come.

Trump L. Ron. Hubbard
                              Trump and L. Ron Hubbard

So, less educated or less knowledgeable people have become the main target for the Trump machine (and it is a machine with a plan, as I will diary soon).

We are dealing with a Trump base that has been brainwashed over the years and now has become a cult.  Trump is their L. Ron Hubbard.  We need to win in November and certainly in 2020 and then we need to deprogram this Trump cult.  We can do it but we need to understand what we are dealing with.



The Psychological Quirk That Explains Why You Love Donald Trump

Written by Dunning himself back in May 2016.

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1 Comment on "Trump’s base mindset/cult and the Dunning-Kruger effect"

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Sadly, Trump is the one to put some meaning in these people’s lives. It does not get much less pathetic than that.

Think about the 900+ of Jim Jones followers who had no meaning in their lives.
But became enlightened enough to commit mass suicide at the urging of their leader.
A desperate individual is one thing, a crowd of them is something else!