Living Large In Carson City: Stupid Is as Stupid Does Edition

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The one lesson the Trump administration has taught America is don’t get too comfortable with the status quo. To Donald Trump, it means nothing. Whether it was the size of his popular vote win to the crowd numbers at his swearing in to just about everything that has transpired over the last year and a half, Trump’s version of the event is going to be diametrically opposed to the reality of the situation. Honestly, it’s exhausting.

This week ushered in a respite of sorts, albeit, a devastating one. Hurricane Florence began her journey to the America’s eastern shore a little over a week ago and has been steadily plodding her way across the Atlantic for the inevitable land fall last Friday. Coverage and preparation for the disaster in making has been round the clock and seems to be more than adequate so far. Florence is expected to hang out on the central Eastern seaboard well into next week with flooding of low lying areas of particular concern.

I know this is going to sound callous, but it is refreshing in a morbid way not to have to listen to the criminal antics of Giuliani, Cohen, Manafort, Don, Jr., and the whole cast of unseemly characters that Trump has anointed with his on special brand of brotherhood. Yet, Trump insanely got into a pissing war with the media over the number of deaths that resulted from last year’s Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico. Here was one of his opening salvos,

Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath of the storm. In fact, the President has instead sought praise for his handling of Hurricane Maria, saying earlier this week that it was “an incredible, unsung success.” CNN

Later, he came up with this statement without providing documentation or facts beyond those he pulled from his “superior intellect”,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

His rationale centered mainly around blaming the Democrats for trying to make him look as bad as possible. Trump is, as we all know, a “blamer” and uses blame as his go to default defense when challenged on just about any issue. Giving him the benefit of the doubt is never a good course of action, especially not in this case.

The death toll study was commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a member of Puerto Rico’s “New Progressive Party.” It was conducted by the nonpartisan George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
There has been no evidence to indicate that partisan politics has played a role in the calculation of the death tally, and George Washington University released a statement Thursday that said it stands by its work. CNN

What baffles me is how can he look directly into a camera and state lies as if he believes them with every ounce of his being? He does it time and time again without the least bit of embarrassment or fear that he will be found out. Then a couple of weeks ago, I ran across an old installment of The David Pakman Show where Pakman interviewed David Dunning formerly of Cornell University’s Institute of Social Sciences. He along with his fellow social psychologist, Justin Kruger, developed the Dunning-Kruger Effect back in the late 1990s, and all things Trump became clearer.

In an article for Forbes Magazine titled The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They’re Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible, Mark Murphy goes into detail of what the Effect is in real life, and for me, explains Trump’s less than strict adherence to the truth. Murphy wrote,

If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.

Coined in 1999 by then-Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence. And not only do they fail to recognize their incompetence, they’re also likely to feel confident that they actually are competent. Forbes

Sound familiar? It’s actually much worse than what Murphy describes above. He continued,

The irony of the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that, Professor Dunning notes, “the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task.”

 

To be fair, everyone at some time in their life is subject to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It links to how I understand ignorance and stupidity. Not knowing how something works or not understanding the bigger picture of how things interact in the real world, we operate on the information we have on hand. Often this incomplete knowledge comes from our parents or people we trust or want to emulate. While they may be dealing with a bigger set of parameters, in our ignorance, we use the knowledge we have available.

For most of us, as we age and gain more information, we alter our beliefs and ultimately our actions to expand our knowledge base, so our lives and understanding transform as we grow intellectually and emotionally. This is why I think that in ignorance there is power. Power to change. Power to expand into a greater world of understanding. Stupidity is never making the leap from our incomplete knowledge base and remaining mired in that less than perfect understanding of the world and calling it good.

Factor in Trump’s narcissistic personality, and you have the perfect storm of a person caught between reality and their own fictional world that supports their every claim, regardless of the veracity of their beliefs. When a narcissistic person is challenged on an obvious untruth or misconception, regardless of the facts, they lie or invent a bogey man to blame for the discrepancy.

For Trump, this isn’t even a choice but a knee jerk reaction to being questioned about his internal story line. Part pride, part self-delusion, Trump’s lies are the act of a pathetic, small-minded person who is so caught up in his fantasy of himself and his self worth that, in his mind, he is the sole arbitrator of truth, regardless of the facts. It’s the rest of us that have to deal with the reality of those fantasies.

 

 

 

 

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