miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
There is a wealth of research out there backing up a bit of common knowledge: people do not trust politicians.

All politicians of every party and none will acknowledge that they try to present the facts in the best light to suit their position. They'll cherry-pick, they'll play down unflattering facts and big up flattering ones. They'll misdirect. Few, however, will admit to outright lies, despite the fact that some at least can be proven to be actively promulgating falsehoods.

This means that once a "truth" becomes common knowledge about a certain type of politician, it becomes very, very hard to shift. The tories, for instance, have a reputation for economic competence which is completely counter to the facts. Lib Dems are considered wooly, pie-in-the-sky and impractical, when in my experience we are almost manically obsessed with facts and evidence. And UKIP, certainly among their supporters, have the reputation for telling inconvenient truths that other politicians would prefer to stay hidden, when, in reality they... well, to put it kindly, they are the cherry-pickiest and most misdirecting of all of us.

In part this is one of those irregular verbs: I tell inconvenient truths, you twist the facts, he lies. In part it is that it is human nature to test facts against one's own experience and opinions and reject those that don't fit. And most humans also have the enviable ability to hold two (or more) completely contradictory "facts" to be true - one only has to look at the immigration debate. Lazy immigrants coming over here working all the hours God sends Stealing Our Jobs and lounging about on benefits that we taxpayers pay for.

What interests me is that when all politicians are held to be untrustworthy, which I think we can accept is the case, why do the electorate then decide to put the tiny amount of trust they have for politicians as a class into the ones that are most often found to be liars? I guess the question I am asking is: if all politicans are liars, why are some lies more seductive than others? Why do people want to believe the self-evident bullshit of a Donald Trump against the more finely crafted horseshit of a Hillary Clinton?

I don't have an answer for this, and if I did I suspect I'd be very rich indeed.

Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2016 10:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] newandrewhickey.livejournal.com
It comes down to the neurotypical belief that they can read minds. They think that someone giving a complex or nuanced answer to a question is equivocating, while someone giving a simple one is telling the truth, because they're relating it to their own behaviour.

They know that if *they* were asked "did you sleep with my sister on our wedding night?" and they said "well, it depends what you mean by your sister, and what you mean by sleep with" then it'd be because they were trying to get away with something, so they presume that anyone asked a question about, say, fiscal policy or EU regulations or something who gives that kind of answer is trying to get away with something, while your Farages or Trumps who just make up a simple lie aren't.

It doesn't occur to them that maybe some questions don't actually *have* simple answers, and sometimes there is no "plain meaning" to words...

Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
ggreig: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ggreig
Yes, with the possible slight refinement that people want binary answers and politicians love to pose false dichotomies, because they know their opponent will look evasive if they try to give any sensible answer at all. It's not necessarily either/or, folks! Some politicians are also too quick to impugn opponents' honesty when they're giving an honest but nuanced answer. If you spot it, you'll think much less of the accuser, but many won't spot it; and even buy into it because it's appealing as soap opera narrative.

It doesn't help that a politician caught directly lying to the electorate during an election campaign, as opposed to spinning, and criticised for it in court, got away with it because it was a political lie and not a personal one. I don't want to bash that drum too vigorously, because I recognise I'm speaking to people who were uncomfortable with that situation too, but it has an effect.

Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2016 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] newandrewhickey.livejournal.com
Yep, I'm against all political lies, including those from my own party.

Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2016 01:48 pm (UTC)
ggreig: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ggreig
I respect you and Andrew very much for your opinions on AC (among a whole bunch of other things, natch).

Date: Saturday, June 4th, 2016 01:04 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Yes, same here.

Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2016 04:39 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Confirmation bias. Although we know they're lying, we believe the lies that most closely align with our own preexisting beliefs.

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