So now we live in a post-fact world. At least, we are if you ask anyone’s who’s job it is to fact check anyone. I agree with that sentiment. The only thing I differ on is that this is somehow different. I would argue we’ve always lived in a post-fact world. To see what I mean we have to look closer at the human brain.
At any given time you are inundated with information. It never ends. Right now your brain is receiving data about how your tongue is resting in your mouth, how often you blink and breathe, what your heart rate it, what your emotional state is. Those are just a few of the internal things. It gets greater and greater the more external you get. This is one of the big problems behind things like autonomous cars. There is so much information coming at you while you drive, it’s hard to know what the important stuff is and what can be ignored. That isn’t to say it’s impossible for computers to drive, just that that’s one of many problems to be solved. More on that later. Now, in some cases, even an enormous amount of information can be reduced down to a manageable size. Buying a house, for example. Other than cost and location, there are more details that can be counted in any house. If you have to choose between multiple options, how can you possibly do so? The answer is you ignore most details and just focus on the most critical ones. Generally, that means cost and location, things that are concrete and can easily be understood. Voting is the same.
How can you possibly choose between two candidates? In our most recent presidential election we had a choice between someone with no political experience but was sober, and someone who decades of experience but enjoys alcohol. Is that relevant? What about their position on the Iraq war? What about their positions on healthcare, taxes, immigration? Who can say? Ultimately, all voters made a decision based on incomplete information, because there was no way to analyze it all.
What was really different about this time, different than any other election in my experience, is that one of the candidates was unbelievably good at telling us what to look at. Trump could get us to focus on Clinton’s email server, coal miners who lost their jobs, building walls, lowering taxes, building roads and bridges. He was great at it. Clinton wasn’t nearly as good. I don’t know what she would stand for. I have strong suspicions, but she had no idea as simple and plain as build a wall. And now the election has been settled we are once again having our attention focussed. This time Trump is finding he can’t do it all alone. And all the people who surround a president aren’t nearly as good as he is. In addition to that, his many enemies are stepping up their collective game.
We’ve always lived in a post fact world. The last couple of election cycles have been severely unbalanced between the many competing views. Trump is helping bring everyone up to the same level.