Lao Tsu, a Chinese Emperor, Osama bin Laden, and the purported son of Al Capone, are all mixed together in the legendary saga of the largest pearl ever found. The Atlantic tells its story.
Legend says the diver drowned retrieving the pearl. Trapped in a giant Tridacna clam, his body was brought to the surface by his fellow tribesmen in Palawan, a province of the Philippines, in May 1934. When the clam was pried open, and the meat scraped out, the local chief beheld something marvelous: a massive pearl, its sheen like satin. In its surface, the chief discerned the face of the Prophet Muhammad. He named it the Pearl of Allah. At 14 pounds, one ounce, it was the largest pearl ever discovered.
A Filipino American, Wilburn Dowell Cobb, was visiting the island at the time and offered to buy the jewel. In a 1939 article that appeared in Natural History magazine, he recounted the chiefâ€™s refusal to sell: â€œA pearl with the image of Mohammed, the Prophet of Allah, is earned by devotion, by sacrifice, not bought with money.â€ But when the chiefâ€™s son fell ill with malaria, Cobb used atabrine, a modern medicine, to heal him. â€œYou have earned your reward,â€ the chief proclaimed. â€œHere, my friend, claim this, your pearl.â€
In 1939, Cobb brought the pearl to New York City, and exhibited it at Ripleyâ€™s Believe It or Not, on Broadway. There, a new legend emerged, eclipsing the first. Upon seeing the pearl, Cobb said, an elderly Chinese gentleman â€œof highest culture and significant wealthâ€ named Mr. Lee â€œburst into an hysteria of trembling and weeping.â€ This wasnâ€™t the Pearl of Allah; this was the long-lost Pearl of Lao Tzu.
Around 600 b.c., he told Cobb, Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, carved an amulet depicting the â€œthree friendsâ€â€”Buddha, Confucius, and himselfâ€”and inserted it into a clam so that a pearl would grow around it. As it developed, the pearl was transferred to ever-larger shells until only the giant Tridacna could hold it. In its sheen, Mr. Lee claimed, was not just one face, but three.
On the spot, Mr. Lee offered Cobb half a million dollars, saying the pearl was actually worth $3.5 million. But like the principled chief before him, Cobb refused to sell.
The mysterious Mr. Lee returned to China, never to be heard from again. But his spontaneous appraisalâ€”$3.5 millionâ€”still forms the basis of a price that has steadily grown, from $40 million to $60 million to $75 million and beyond. And Mr. Leeâ€™s recognition of Lao Tzuâ€™s legendary pearl is at the heart of an 80-year-old hoax that has left a trail of wreckage across the United Statesâ€”a satin mirage many try to grasp, before the jaws snap shut.
Bits of the legend are true. The pearl really was discovered when a diver drowned; Cobb really did acquire it from the local chief; and gazing at the pearl, you really can discern the face of a turbaned man. The rest is a fantasy Cobb invented.
Nobody seriously intelligent, nobody who really understands Science, nobody with common sense or an independent mind swallows the Global Warming Catastrophist nonsense.
Myles Weber, at Quillette, explains that the widely-accepted “greenhouse effect” does not work as Science at all. It’s really just an inaccurate metaphor that appeals to the popular imagination.
As a university professor, I am best positioned to report on the widespread incompetence and malfeasance found specifically in academe. A work colleague once corrected me on a matter concerning the greenhouse effect. With no scientific training, he had recently moderated a panel discussion on climate change in an attempt to convince students to support our university presidentâ€™s Green Initiative, which as far as I could tell reduced carbon dioxide emissions not at all but placed undue strain on the universityâ€™s finances, which in turn put upward pressure on tuition costs. I mentioned to my colleague in passing that, from an educational standpoint, the term greenhouse gas was an unfortunate misnomer since the architectural design of an actual greenhouse is not closely related to the physical properties of tropospheric greenhouse gases.
This has been my go-to analogy to explain how some people have confused the two phenomena: The sentence â€œLike Placido Domingo, Bob Dylan sings for a livingâ€ does not convey the same meaning as â€œBob Dylan sings like Placido Domingo for a living.â€ Itâ€™s true that carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and other gases drive the Earthâ€™s average temperature higher than it otherwise would be, just as the design of a greenhouse makes the interior of that structure warmer than the surrounding environment. But the processes by which the warming occurs in these two instances are quite distinct, in the same sense that a troubadourâ€™s vocals in no way resemble an operatic tenorâ€™s. The confusion resulting from the term greenhouse gas, I suggested to my colleague, made it that much harder to explain the general workings of our climate to students, who might end up believing greenhouse gases form a solid barrier to convection or, conversely, that a greenhouse reradiates invisible light energy as heat energy at select frequencies.
My colleague assured me I was misinformed. As a bonus, he did so in front of our department chairwoman just as I was about to go up for tenure. Greenhouses, he explained, are in fact warmed primarily by extra concentrations of carbon dioxide imbedded in the glass plates of the building. Well, I conceded, a small, perhaps even measurable amount of warming might occur in a greenhouse as a result of elevated CO2 levels in the glass panels; indeed, a greenhouseâ€™s temperature also rises when a human being steps inside and exhales warm air. But these are insignificant considerations that have nothing to do with the structureâ€™s basic design. During the day a greenhouse will be warmer than the surrounding environment regardless of whether a human enters it and breathes or whether the clear panels contain extra CO2 or are carbon free.
My colleagueâ€”our departmentâ€™s self-appointed expert on climate mattersâ€”was undeterred. â€œItâ€™s just like my front porch at home,â€ he insisted. â€œIn the afternoon the porch is much warmer than the rest of the house during the summerâ€”you really bake in thereâ€”because of the carbon dioxide in the windows.â€
I wasnâ€™t sure how to respond politely to this new assertion. Glass is an insignificant reservoir of CO2â€”that much was still true. Moreover, as the sun reaches its zenith on a summer day, perpendicular windows serve as fairly ineffectual portals through which visible light energy may pass. Under these conditions an enclosed porch becomes warmer than the rest of the house due largely to a third process, called conduction, owing to the porchâ€™s uninsulated roof and walls, which receive the brunt of the sunâ€™s rays and pass heat into the building. (BjÃ¶rk sings nothing like Bob Dylan or Placido Domingo, in other words.) If youâ€™ve ever lived in an attic apartment in the summer, even if you kept the window shades drawn, you have felt the power of conduction.
I thought I saw signs of sympathy on our chairwomanâ€™s face as she looked on, and a sense of relief passed over me, but it turned out her sympathy was not on my behalf but, rather, my colleagueâ€™s. After I reaffirmed that carbon dioxide was an incidental consideration in these cases, the chairwoman asked: â€œWell, how does a greenhouse work then?â€
I first inquired whether she was serious, for I didnâ€™t want to believe that two college professors in succession both lacked a basic understanding of the simple workings of a greenhouse, but that was the reality. I therefore explained, â€œVisible light energy passes through the transparent panels and gets converted into heat energy when it strikes the plants, tables, and floor. This warms the surrounding air, which rises, but the convection process is impeded by the solid glass panels, trapping the heated air inside.â€
My department chairwoman glanced at our colleague, then at me. â€œOh,â€ she said. Then she turned and walked away.
Hendrik Gerritsz Pot, Floraes Mallewagen (Flora’s wagon of fools), c.1640.
Anne Goldgar explains that the cautionary story of the great 17th century Dutch Tulip Bubble is mostly wrong.
Why have these myths persisted? We can blame a few authors and the fact they were bestsellers. In 1637, after the crash, the Dutch tradition of satirical songs kicked in, and pamphlets were sold making fun of traders. These were picked up by writers later in the 17th century, and then by a late 18th-century German writer of a history of inventions, which had huge success and was translated into English. This book was in turn plundered by Charles Mackay, whose Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds of 1841 has had huge and undeserved success. Much of what Mackay says about tulip mania comes straight from the satirical songs of 1637 â€“ and it is repeated endlessly on financial websites, in blogs, on Twitter, and in popular finance books like A Random Walk down Wall Street. But what we are hearing are the fears of 17th-century people about a 17th-century situation.
It was not actually the case that newcomers to the market caused the crash, or that foolishness and greed overtook those who traded in tulips. But this, and the possible social and cultural changes stemming from massive shifts in the distribution of wealth, were fears then and are fears now. Tulip mania gets brought up again and again, as a warning to investors not to be stupid, or to stay away from what some might call a good thing.
A well-rooted scientific consensus, like a mature oak, needs time to grow. Scientists have to do research, publish articles, read about other research, and repeat experiments (where possible). They need to reveal their data and methods, have open debates, evaluate arguments, look at the trends, and so forth, before they can come to agreement. When scientists rush to declare a consensus â€” when they claim a consensus that has yet to form â€” this should give everyone pause.
In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, â€œOnly an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.â€ In the real 1992, however, Gallup â€œreported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% werenâ€™t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didnâ€™t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.â€
Seventeen years later, in 2009, Gore revised his own fake history. He claimed that the debate over human-induced climate change had raged until as late as 1999, but now there was true consensus. Of course, 2009 is when Climategate broke, reminding us that what had smelled funny was indeed rotten. …
It makes sense that chemists over time may come to agree about the results of some chemical reaction, since they can repeat the results over and over in their own labs. Theyâ€™re easy to test. But much of climate science is not like that. The evidence is scattered and hard to track. Itâ€™s often indirect, imbedded in history and laden with theory. You canâ€™t rerun past climate to test it. And the headline-grabbing claims of climate scientists are based on complex computer models that donâ€™t match reality. These models get their input, not from the data, but from the scientists who interpret the data. This isnâ€™t the sort of evidence that can provide the basis for a well-founded consensus. In fact, if there really were a consensus on the many claims around climate science, that would be suspicious. Thus, the claim of consensus is a bit suspect as well.
According to National Geographic, you killed this particular polar bear with your CO2 emissions, you heartless creep.
Of course, polar bear numbers are up, not down. And that video maker and his agitator organization did not autopsy the bear or do anything else to establish factually why it was emaciated. Polar bears, like all other living things, do get sick and get old and die of natural causes with no connection whatsoever to ice or the weather.
Never even having landed on the ground, just like the National Geographic video-maker, Monnett simply assumed that climate change was responsible, that the bears drowned due to lack of ice. He then took the quantity of deceased bears (three, rounded up to four) observed flying over 11% of his 630-kilometer-wide study are, and proceeded to project that equivalent quantities of dead bears were distributed over the whole area.
One starving bear is not scientific evidence that man-made global warming has already negatively affected polar bears, but it is evidence that some activists will use any ploy to advance their agenda and increase donations.
The photographer talks about polar bears.
In an interview yesterday, published in the Victoria Times-Colonist (my home town), photographer Nicklen statedâ€¦
â€œNicklen is careful about drawing conclusions from his pictures, noting that many people look to poke holes in whatâ€™s being said about things like the disappearance of sea ice from the North. â€¦â€™Ice is melting earlier every spring and freezing later every fall,â€™ Nicklen said. â€˜Bears are designed to go as much as two months without ice, but they are not designed to go four or five months without ice. â€œWell, this [the video] is what it actually looks like when polar bears are stranded on land.'”
Nicklen should do a bit more reading: polar bears in Western Hudson Bay routinely go four to five months without ice. Four months was normal in the good old days (ca. 1980) and almost five months in some recent years (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Cherry et al. 2013; Ramsay and Stirling 1988; Stirling and Lunn 1997). WHB pregnant females spend 8 months or more on land with no ill effects that can conclusively be blamed on a slightly longer time without ice (Crockford 2017). Southern Hudson Bay polar bears spend a similar amount of time without ice (Obbard et al. 2016), see this post (with references).
Donald Devine, in the American Spectator, has a fine time debunking the community of fashion’s popular notion of “settled science.”
The idea that people will not accept the findings of science drives a certain class of self-described intellectuals crazy. Even those who can comprehend the Yale University Cultural Cognition Project research warning that scientific findings are screened by individuals through pre-existing cultural beliefs and are interpreted in ways to reinforce those beliefs still insist their own scientific beliefs are objective and settled.
That research finds progressives risk averse, biased toward control of their environment, while conservatives tolerate risk, partial toward greater freedom â€” the recognition of which does not overcome the progressive insistence that relativity explains all motion or that global warming is â€œsettled science.â€ Conservative wise man Eric Voegelin traced the progressive predisposition to the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte, who invented the social sciences to replace religion with objective empirical research that would eventually allow humans to achieve perfection in this world rather than waiting for the next.
The fact that this hope has fallen a bit short over the following century has not diminished its appeal. For progressivism, it is just science, at least when it agrees with its own reductionist, materialistic predispositions by academic fields dominated by fellow progressives. While it might surprise that 43 percent of physicists believe that God or some higher spirit affected material development, it is even a majority belief among biological and chemistry scientists. On the other hand, few hold this belief in psychiatry and many other social sciences.
In fact, settled science is rather difficult to find, even the purely physical sciences. Columbia University physicist Brian Greene explained: â€œ[G]eneral relativity and quantum mechanics cannot both be rightâ€ as currently formulated, even though they are â€œthe two foundational pillars upon which modern physics rests.â€ The journal Physical Review Letters reported that a major study of the light sterile neutrino, widely expected by scientists to undermine Standard Model physics, found at a â€œ99% certaintyâ€ level that neutrinos do not even exist.
An article in Current Biology questioned whether biologistsâ€™ long-held conception of the basic structure of the animal cell is in fact universal. Ninety-eight percent of human genome DNA had long been determined to be â€œjunkâ€ and only 2 percent meaningful â€” until the ENCODE project recently reported that in fact at least 80 percent of it was active. Scientists have known for years there are 83 distinct areas in the brain, but the journal Nature published a study last year more than doubling the number of brain regions to 180.
The one field where the science must be â€œsettled,â€ of course, is global warming. Or is it â€œclimate change,â€ when clearly no skeptic doubts climate changes? Why the alteration in terminology? Perhaps because, in 2007, the worldâ€™s leading experts at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported its â€œcentral forecastâ€ for long-term warming to be 3 degrees C. Yet, since then its reports have not listed a single central estimate but did reduce its minimal expected warming down from a 1.5-degrees rise to only a 1.0-degree temperature increase.
The U.S.â€™s NASA-Goddard Institute did announce that 2016 was the â€œhottest year on record,â€ but while NASA had formerly warned against accepting â€œmisleadingâ€ specific temperatures without considering the ranges of scores within the measurement margin of error, it did not repeat that warning in 2016. As the Wall Street Journalâ€™s Holman Jenkins showed, after taking into account error margins, 2015 and 2016, two El NiÃ±o years, were actually tied for being the warmest years recorded, and 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 were all tied for second place, close behind.
As climatologist Judith Curry testified to Congress, IPCC models have forecast surface temperatures to increase 0.2 degrees C each 21st century decade. But during the first fifteen years, actual temperatures only increased 0.05, four times lower than predicted. And the models cannot explain why more than 40 percent of the temperature increases since 1900 took place between 1910 and 1945, which produced a mere 10 percent of the carbon emissions.
Peter Hitchens has published, in First Things, an excellent essay attacking the notion of addiction, the preternatural ability of certain morally disreputable substances to offer temptations so powerful as to overwhelm completely the free will of any normal human being. The late Thomas Szasz was attacking the same generally accepted delusion decades ago.
The chief difficulty with the word â€œaddictionâ€ is the idea that it describes a power greater than the will. If it exists in the way we use it and in the way our legal and medical systems assume it exists, then free will has been abolished. I know there are people who think and argue this is so. But this is not one of those things that can be demonstrated by falsifiable experiment. In the end, the idea that humans do not really have free will is a contentious opinion, not an objective fact.
So to use the word â€œaddictionâ€ is to embrace one side in one of those ancient unresolved debates that cannot be settled this side of the grave. To decline to use it, by contrast, is to accept that all kinds of influences, inheritances, and misfortunes may well operate on us, and propel us towards mistaken, foolish, wrong, and dangerous actions or habits. It is to leave open the question whether we can resist these forces. I am convinced that declining the word â€œaddictionâ€ is both the only honest thing to do, and the only kind and wise thing to do, when we are faced with fellow creatures struggling with harmful habits and desires. It is all very well to relieve someone of the responsibility for such actions, by telling him his body is to blame. But what is that solace worth if he takes it as permission to carry on as before? Once or twice I have managed to explain to a few of my critics that this is what I am saying. But generally they are too furious, or astonished by my sheer nerve, to listen.
So let us approach it another way. The English language belongs to no state or government. It is not ruled by academies or even defined by dictionaries, however good. It operates on a sort of linguistic version of common law, by usage and precedent. And the expression â€œaddictionâ€ is very widely and variously used. There are people who claim, seriously, to be â€œaddictedâ€ to sex or to gambling.
It is now impolite to refer to habitual drunkards. They are â€œalcoholics,â€ supposedly suffering from a complaint that is not their fault. The curious variable ambiguity of Alcoholics Anonymous on this point has added to the confusion. AA, to begin with, asked its adherents to admit they had no control over themselves, as a preliminary to giving that power to God. Somehow I suspect that God plays less of a part in modern AA doctrine, but the idea of powerlessness remains. Members of the organization quietly moved from calling alcoholism an â€œillnessâ€ or a â€œmaladyâ€ to describing it as a â€œdisease,â€ round about the time that the medical profession began to do the same thing.
We are ceaselessly told that cigarettes are â€œaddictive.â€ Most powerfully, most of us believe that the abusers of the illegal drug heroin are â€œaddictedâ€ to it. Once again, the public, the government, and the legal and medical systems are more or less ordered to believe that users of these things are involuntary sufferers. A British celebrity and alleged comedian, Russell Brand, wrote recently, â€œThe mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless [my emphasis] over their addiction and, unless they have structured help, they have no hope.â€
Brand is a former heroin abuser who has by now rather famously given up the drug. But how can that be, if what he says about addiction is true? The phrase â€œwholly irrationalâ€ simply cannot withstand the facts of Brandâ€™s own life. It will have to be replaced by something much less emphaticâ€”let us say, â€œpartly irrational.â€ The same thing happens to the phrase â€œcompletely powerless.â€ Neither the adverb nor the adjective can survive. Nor can the word â€œaddictionâ€ itself, which is visibly evaporating. We have to say â€œthey struggle over their compulsion.â€
Or you might turn to this definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
This definition prompted one writer at Alternet, an influential pro-addiction website, to say:
If you think addiction is all about booze, drugs, sex, gambling, food and other irresistible vices, think again. And if you believe that a person has a choice whether or not to indulge in an addictive behavior, get over it. . . . Fundamental impairment in the experience of pleasure literally compels the addict to chase the chemical highs produced by substances like drugs and alcohol and obsessive behaviors like sex, food and gambling.
In other words, conscious choice plays little or no role in the actual state of addiction; as a result, a person cannot choose not to be addicted. The most an addict can do is choose not to use the substance or engage in the behavior that reinforces the entire self-destructive reward-circuitry loop. So even if the supposed â€œaddictâ€ ceases (as many do) to be â€œaddictedâ€ in practice to the addictive substance or activity, he remains â€œaddictedâ€ in some spiritual, subjective way, which cannot actually be seen in his behavior.
The defender of the concept of â€œaddiction,â€ confronted with evidence that many â€œaddictsâ€ cease to be â€œaddicted,â€ will say that of course he didnâ€™t mean to suggest the phenomenon was wholly irresistible and could not be mastered by will. Oh no, he will say, reasonable people quite understand that it is not like that at all. In any normal argument, this would be the end of the matter. Anyone who confesses to using a word in one sense when it suits him, and in a wholly contradictory sense when it also suits him, has expelled himself from the company of all reasonable people and admitted that he respects neither truth nor logic.
In reality, everything pleasurable is “addictive” in the sense that one naturally desires to repeat the experience. The notion that certain unholy pleasures are so powerful that they must inevitably come to dominate those foolish enough to dare to encounter them is really just an imaginatively compelling literary narrative that has been widely accepted as factual.
On my Yale Class email list, this morning, a left-wing classmate forwarded a link and a quoted section of Charles M. Blow‘s morally-self-congratulatory and intellectually-condescending New York Times editorial.
â€œRecently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. Itâ€™s this: Facts donâ€™t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.â€
Supporting Trump is a Hail Mary pass of a hail-the-demagogue assemblage. Trumpâ€™s triumph as the presumptive Republican Party nominee is not necessarily a sign of his strategic genius as much as itâ€™s a sign of some peopleâ€™s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies.
Itâ€™s hard to use the truth as an instrument of enlightenment on people who prefer to luxuriate in a lie.
I replied (this version slightly edited):
Trump supporters are supporting him, not in spite of his vulgarity, his lack of manners, his constant lying and self-contradiction, his ignorance, and his obvious lack of fixed principles; they are supporting him specifically because he is manifestly unconstrained by ordinary conventions of etiquette, ethics, or ideas.
They are so angry at people like you… and so resentful of how they feel they have been treated by the educated elites of this country that they are intentionally supporting a man they perceive as a ruthless thug, hoping to turn him loose on you. Donald Trump is being nominated as a great big “Fuck You!” to leftists like you for your ruthless and tyrannical imposition of your aberrant values and failed policies on America and to conservatives and Republicans like me for failing to stop you. The peasants are in open, and thoroughly irrational, revolt.
There’s been a certain amount of complaining about my insulting people by referring to them as “low-information-voters.” The problem is: I’m right. That’s exactly what they are, as Ilya Somin explains at some length.
A specter is haunting this year’s presidential election: political ignorance. Both Democrats and Republicans love to accuse the other party’s supporters of that sin. Sadly, both are often right.
The presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has raised exploitation of ignorance to new heights. Many of the main themes of his campaign prey on it. Trump’s campaign first took off when he claimed we are being inundated with Mexican immigrants, who increase the crime rate because many are “criminals” and “rapists.” In reality, net migration from Mexico has been close to zero for the last 10 years. Yet few Americans seem to know that. And while studies consistently find that immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born Americans, a 2015 Pew Research Center study found that 50% of Americans (and 71% of Republicans) believe immigration is making crime “worse.”
Trump’s claim that nations such as China, Mexico and Japan are “killing us on trade” because we have trade deficits with them also relies on ignorance. As economists across the political spectrum recognize, free trade benefits the economy, and a bilateral trade deficit between two nations is no more an indicator of economic failure than is my trade deficit with my local supermarket. Unfortunately, studies show that trade is one of the areas where there is the greatest gap between general public opinion and informed opinion.
Trump is far from the only candidate to exploit ignorance this year, merely the most successful. Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” who has mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge for the Democratic nomination, shares some of Trump’s demagoguery on trade.
Like Trump, Sanders has also put forward budget projections that most experts, even in his own party, regard as fantastical. Surveys consistently show that most Americans greatly underestimate the percentage of federal spending devoted to big entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which are among the largest areas of federal spending. As a result, many voters accept Trump and Sanders’ claims that we can not only deal with our serious fiscal problems without reforming them, but also pile on enormous spending increases (Sanders) or tax cuts (Trump). A survey of Sanders supporters by Vox found that the vast majority are unwilling to pay more than a fraction of the tax increases that even Sanders’ own projections say would be required to fund the new health care and education programs he proposes. Most likely do not realize the true cost.
The problem of ill-informed voters is certainly not confined to Trump and Sanders, or to the 2016 election; more conventional politicians often manipulate ignorance, as well. It is also not limited to specific issues, instead extending to the basic structure of government.
What I tend to refer to as “Low-Information-Voter” Trump support is based on a widespread acceptance of a couple of astonishing (and obviously entirely mythical) narratives.
Myth 1: There are no real conservatives. All of them: the Conservative intellectual opposition, the most conservative Republicans in Congress, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, are all sell-outs and traitors, in league with the liberal elite to sell out Middle America to the forces of Progressivism. Republicans and Conservative intellectuals could have defeated Barack Obama and the democrats, but chose deliberately not to.
Myth 2: In the midst of this desolate landscape of opportunism, selfishness, and universal corruption, there is a single bright and shining light, that working-class hero, Donald J. Trump, the heroic, self-made businessman who understands how things really work, who has created his own fortune, a fortune so large that he is completely above pecuniary considerations and will not be beholden to any special interests but can devote his energies selflessly to serving the interests of his people, the little people, the ordinary Americans despised, exploited, and neglected by the system. Donald Trump is volunteering to enter public service in order to make America great again, just for them.
I see in my mind’s eye a nation of Trump supporters, singing the Blues:
After B.B. King:
Nobody loves me, but The Donald
And he could be jivin’ too
Nobody loves me, but The Donald
And he could be jivin’ too
That’s why we Trumpkins act so funny,
That’s why we do the things we do
But when The Donald screws us over
What then are we gonna do?