Nowhere, USA — Except Obama never did that. You’re stupid. If you’ve followed this sensational headline with the goal of hardening your confirmation bias, regardless of your point of view, we regret to inform you that you’ve been duped. Don’t worry; you’re one of the thousands of liberal, conservative, moderate, or whatever people who fell for this prank.
But we hope it gives you pause.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or supports one’s prior personal beliefs or values. It is an essential type of cognitive bias that has a significant effect on the proper functioning of society by distorting evidence-based decision-making.
In short, you seek facts and opinions that already fit your point of view and then use those “facts and opinions” to make decisions. What we should be doing is seeking out that which we don’t agree with.
We believe that confirmation bias is one of the core issues confronting our planet at this time. All other troubles spring from it, coloring and influencing how we prioritize and attack some of our most pressing problems: climate change, income inequality, poverty, public health, and a variety of other existential issues.
Recently the Trump administration has encouraged action against peaceful protests, attacking crowds for the sole purpose of getting a photo opportunity. Worse, a good chunk of his supporters has agreed with this, going even further suggesting that their fellow Americans are enemies of the Republic, and should be treated as such.
It should be no surprise when you think about it. For decades now, American foreign policy has been responsible for the utter destruction and mayhem overseas. Most Americans disassociate from these atrocities by merely disassociating from them. We’ve allowed our minds to be filled with the jingoistic rhetoric of freedom and American exceptionalism. How could we do wrong when we’re the good guys? It’s one big patriotic circle jerk. We’re great because we’re exceptional, the greatest country ever. And then it’s off to get a chicken sandwich at the drive-thru.
Out of sight, out of mind.
However, Trump’s cohort has now applied this disassociative behavior to internal American affairs. Our conservatives and reactionaries have now applied this enemy stance to its perceived enemies inside this country. The American Left, they’ll tell us, are terrorists. They’re the real enemy. They need to be imprisoned, “dealt with,” or more recently shot for protesting.
So back to why you’re here. Somewhere you wanted to understand or confirm why Obama attacked protesters. For conservatives, we suppose you’re looking for that whataboutism confirmation. For moderates and cynical ones, we presume, you’re here to prove that “they all do it.” If you’re a liberal, you’re probably outraged that someone would accuse President Obama of doing this.
What we want from this is simple: pause, think, don’t react. Please stay calm and refraining from impulse.