Triggered (3)

In the brilliant podcast interview given to Sam Harris, Scott Adams claims that on the evening of the 2016 US election Hillary voters were hit by a “cluster bomb” of what is known as cognitive dissonance. It occurs in people who find themselves in a hitherto unthinkable situation and, rather than adjusting their views, create an illusory version of the external reality which they are finding easier to deal with.

The example Scott uses to explain the current state of the public life in the US is that of a movie theatre in which one half of the audience is watching a different movie than the other half – on the same screen. Trump supporters, who were not triggered into cognitive dissonance on 8 November 2016, see the economy going well, Dow Jones at record high levels, illegal immigration 50% down, ISIS dispersing and tax cuts on the horizon. The movie the other half of the theatre is watching is dramatically different and also changes with time.

At first it featured the sky falling and a Hitler character in the White House who had to be resisted. This was the time of the “Not my President” demonstrations and Antifa violence. Then the movie changed into one showing Donald Trump (Hitler had dropped from the cast) using normal presidential mechanisms but causing complete chaos in the White House. At present the alternative script has Donald Trump’s agenda (which aligns with both his election promises and the Republican stance) getting back on track but, predictably, his detractors hate what he is trying to achieve.

What I am finding impressive is that Scott Adams predicted both Trump’s win and the subsequent split of the audience into two halves, each watching its own movie. Here is a great quote from the linked podcast interview:

“I predicted that Trump will not only change the political life – he changed everything – but also will rip a hole in the fabric of reality and allow us to peek through it”

There is a wealth of other interesting angles in what Scott has to say and I recommend the podcast to anyone trying to understand what is going on in the world of US politics. It is a highly thought-provoking piece of social analysis which may trigger some people into checking which movie they are watching.



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