No One Knows Why Trump Is Winning. Here’s What Cognitive Science Says.

The cognitive linguistic psychology behind Trump’s success

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By George Lakoff

Editor’s note: the author’s piece below was written during the primaries.

Donald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and perhaps the next president. Democrats have little understanding of why he is winning — and winning handily, and even many Republicans don’t see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him, but don’t know how. There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

Many people are mystified. He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He likes Planned Parenthood, Social Security, and Medicare, which are not standard Republican positions. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and love the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP trade deal), but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop all Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

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The answer requires a bit of background not discussed in the media to date.

Some Background

I work in the cognitive and brain sciences. In the 1990’s, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding  fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said,“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, Our Country above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

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We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative — male or female —may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don’t deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans’ anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn’t import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him — American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don’t look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government — government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees’ health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them — even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer — the government — take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.” For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable. As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the unAmerican nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call “political correctness” — public pressure against their views and against what they see as “free speech.” This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words “political correctness” remember this.


There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don’t Think of an Elephant! It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in “traditional family values” — a conservative code word — and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump been Winning in the Republican Primaries?

Look at all the conservatives groups he appeals to!

The Democratic Party has not been taking seriously many of the reasons for Trump’s support and the range of that support. And the media has not been discussing many of the reasons for Trump’s support. That needs to change.

Published with permission from George Lakoff

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  • JP Fielding

    actually, scott adams called most of this last year.

    • yohami

      Leaving this here

    • JP Fielding

      but dont mistake my acknowledgement of scott’s prediction as support. trump is pt barnum reborn to me.

  • yohami

    “No one knows why” It would help you to listen to the people who support him, they know why and are not as puzzled as you are.

    • Kudzu Bob

      Both parties support free trade, open borders, and endless war in the Middle East on behalf of Israel. Trump opposes these things, and so does an increasingly radicalized Middle America. Add to that the way in which our ruling class is now largely comprised of low-T beta males like Rubio and Yeb!, who cower before a high-energy alpha male like Trump, and what is happening now looks quite inevitable.

      • gsnarks

        Trump isn’t an “alpha male”, he’s a cartoon focusing his audiences’ seething anarchy back on themselves.

        Cheating, bluster, and bullying are the protest of people who are weak. It speaks volumes that so much of the American public perceives Trump as a “leader” instead of the warning foghorn he actually personifies.

      • thejudy64

        Bernie is against those things also, only he knows how to do it and Trump doesn’t. Bernie is spreading Peace, not Fear and Hate ! He is against war though. Trump has a short temper and would want to bomb everyone ! Bernie knows how to talk to foreign leaders ! Trump would insult them and make any situation worse ! He has no Tatc ! If anyone disagrees with him, he gets offended ! He thinks he knows All about Everything ! And he doesn’t ! He just knows how to get people riled up and mad ! Bernie is bringing people together in a peaceful way and giving them Hope ! Just look at the difference in their supporters and rallye ‘s !? It just Proves who would be the Best leader of this country ! No fights, name calling or violence at Bernie’s !! He is not a violent man but he has a Passion for Fairness and making this country a Democracy again and getting rid of the Facism that has taken it over !

        • Kudzu Bob

          Another thing that Bernie and Trump have in common that you forgot to mention is how the political base of both candidates consists almost exclusively of Whites. This doesn’t hurt Trump because the GOP is the de facto White party. However, the Democrats are now the de facto non-White party, and for that reason Hillary’s lock on Hispanic and Black support means that she is mathematically destined to win the nomination. Maybe Bernie really is bringing people together the way you say he is, but all those people are White. The same immigration-driven trends working against the Republicans on the national level have also rendered Bernie’s overwhelmingly White brand of Leftism permanently marginal for reasons rooted in race. Sucks to be you, I guess. It will suck even more in the years to come, as Whites become an even smaller portion of the Democratic party. Non-Whites just aren’t interested in your ideas.

          • terribletwos

            You are wrong about Bernie followers, they are not totally white.

          • Kudzu Bob

            Google images of “bernie sanders rally” and THEN tell me that you see hardly anything but a sea of White faces, liar.

          • terribletwos

            Google? Why would I need google? I have my own eyes and can see when attending Bernie rallies. Pro-Hill are you? So, take your “liar” and shove it.

          • Kudzu Bob

            You’re not only a liar, you’re also a fool. Bernie did well in states that were heavily White, but Hillary had the non-White votes locked up elsewhere. The racial demographics mean that Bernie’s style of politics will never work within within the Democratic Party. How does it feel to know that you are screwed no matter what you do? You wanted inclusiveness, and now you’re getting it, good and hard, loser. LOL!

          • terribletwos

            First of all you used the word ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY. Do you not know the meanings of the words you used? Right back at you LIAR and FOOL! Not only that, you are ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ignorant!

          • Kudzu Bob

            You mean that Bernie got cheated out of his primary victories in the heavily non-White states but not the heavily White ones? That’s EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to tell you, genius. The deck is stacked against Bernie’s brand of politics because his almost exclusively White supporters are outnumbered by non-Whites in the Democratic Party. The very same demographic trends working against the long-term viability of the Republican Party are also shutting White Progressives out of the Democratic Party. Blacks and Mexicans have just aren’t buying what you White boys are selling, and there’s not a damned thing that you can do about it. LOL

          • terribletwos

            My last comment still stands. Have you been to Bernie rallies? I have. Many mixes of people there. Until you have and know, shut up.

          • Kudzu Bob

            Hey, I’ll make it really easy for you to prove that I don’t know what I’m talking about. All you have to do is provide a link to JUST ONE PHOTO of the crowd at a Bernie Sanders rally that has 10% non-White faces in it. Considering that the country as a whole is roughly 35% non-White, don’t you think that’s pretty fair of me?

            Of course, you and I both know that you aren’t able to do that. I wonder what excuse you will use.

          • terribletwos

            I just told you what I witnessed. Did I count heads? No, I did not. You see, I am not in your little game of counting people of different ethnicities. I KNOW what I saw. I went there to LISTEN. I turned my phone OFF. You are beginning to sound more and more like a trumpie. Go hump someone else, K?

          • Kudzu Bob

            So you decided upon Groucho Marx’s old gambit, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

            Thousands upon thousands of photographs of the crowds at Bernie Sanders rallies can be found on Google Images. Tell me, how long did you spend vainly searching through them for just one picture hat had even a sprinkling of token brown faces among the sea of lily-White Bernie supporters before you gave up?


          • terribletwos

            Dear Trumpervert, Didn’t spend any time looking for photos. I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT! Do you have a reading comprehension or ADD problem? How about just a plain S T U P I D problem?


          • Kudzu Bob

            You didn’t look for any pictures because you know that they don’t exist. Why not just admit that your lie has been exposed?

            Bernie’s supporters are as blindingly Caucasian as the current Republican National Convention that’s going on right now, and your levels of cognitive dissonance are reaching the danger zone. LOL

          • terribletwos
          • Kudzu Bob

            Dude, you’re even more confused than I thought. You linked to some grammatically challenged wall of text, not a photograph.

          • terribletwos
          • Kudzu Bob

            Every single picture has at most one or two token Black faces, and is painstakingly cropped, so as to draw attention away from the overwhelmingly White nature of the crowd. That’s the oldest trick in the book. Honestly, you would have been better off not trying.

          • terribletwos

            Ah, but YET you post none of Trump with “black faces”. Funny. Unusual term to be using, “black faces”? Do I smell an Al Jolson?

          • terribletwos

            A vote for Hillary is a vote for Trump and a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary. They both run in the same clicks, attend the same functions, have the same friends, especially one Jeffrey Epstein. You may want to check him out.

          • Kudzu Bob

            Save your breath. What I want to know is many tens of millions of dollars did Bernie raise from suckers like you before selling out everything you believe in by endorsing such a flagrantly corrupt neocon stooge of Wall Street as Hillary?

          • terribletwos

            Ah, your TRUE colors finally come out.
            It is also what you get for doing you own thinking(using your small head instead of the one on top of your shoulders). Where did I say I was voting for Hillary? Point it out to me?
            In turn, how much did Trump soak you for? Tens of billions of dollars from suckers like you? Or did you just buy into his golden and brown stained water, too cheap to fund his campaign?
            HeeeeLLLLLLOOOOO! Get this. Make sure you read it slowly so your little trump p*n*s head will understand….
            I. AM. NOT. VOTING. FOR . HILLARY.
            I. AM. NOT. VOTING. FOR. TRUMP. No matter how you try to brainwash me.
            Trump =Hilary. Hillary=Trump. They both are the same and cut out of the same cloth. Both are neocons. Both just love Jeffery Epstein, a known pedophile. Chew your ‘Kud’ on that Bob.

          • Kudzu Bob

            You may not be voting for Hillary, but your boy Bernie is. Speaking of which, Bernie spent a cool quarter of a billion dollars on his losing campaign, most of it paid for by suckers like you, whereas Trump has spent maybe a third of that much, half of which came out of his own pockets. And he didn’t even start publicly asking for money until last month. Of course you’d know that if you understood how to use a search engine. LOL

          • terribletwos

            So? That is how politics has been done over the years. You maust have been asleep. Didn’t some of the many candidates throw their hat in the ring supporting Trump even though they were totally against him? Oh! Is that a coin of a different color? But hey, many top republicans are turning their backs on the Trump card.

            ” And he didn’t even start publicly asking for money until last month.” Seems it is you who doesn’t know how to use a search engine. Or lying is your forte? Which is it Kud-chewer? My, my your trump pansies are funny. ROTFL!

          • terribletwos

            Are you Lorena Bobbit’s ex-husband? I can see why she did what she did.

          • Kudzu Bob

            What next, references to OJ Simpson and Tonya Harding? You certainly are one au courant dude.

          • terribletwos

            Get this. Perhaps read it slowly so your ‘tiny’ head(if you still have one) can wrap around it. First of all, where did I say I was voting for Hillary? Please, by all means, point it out for me. Second of all, I AM NOT VOTING FOR TRUMP no matter what you say. Got it? Third of all, your comment doesn’t make any sense (” What I want to know is many tens of millions of dollars did Bernie raise from suckers like you before selling out everything you believe in by endorsing such a flagrantly corrupt neocon stooge of Wall Street as Hillary?”) LOL Trump is a neocon stooge and you call Hillary one. They both are. Don’t bother to try again because at this point, it is harassment and bullying. I don’t care if you believe me or not about Bill Clinton and Trump and Jeffrey Epstein being a common friends. The facts are there but as usual, trump’s pets don’t care to hear the truth.

          • Kudzu Bob

            Trump’s a neocon stooge? Next you’ll be telling me that Bernie Sanders’ supporters weren’t almost exclusively White. Oh, wait, you already did that.

          • terribletwos

            He is. I can’t help it that you do not care to see it, that you purposely choose to be deaf, dumb and blind. Trump doesn’t have the diverse crowd that Bernie does. Trump’s crowd is mostly middle aged, angry white men. Very few blacks, very few Hispanics, very few women, very few young and very few elderly, compared to Bernie. Bernie has the diverse crowd and you DO KNOW that but refuse to admit that you are wrong. But you have TOO much pride and TOO much ego? You are such a liar if you say he does. I also can not help it that you have been trumped, apprenticed and trump’s favorite word, that this site won’t let me post, the starts with sch…. I am watching Bernie right now while I type to you. I can see the crowd right now and I can see the speakers, one right now, is black, one before was Hispanic. So STH up. I’ll bet you will be back to comment because you are just like Trump, a bully and a harasser. Guess I will have to block you.

          • Kudzu Bob

            It ain’t the tokens on the podium that matter, it’s the pasty White faces of Bernie’s supporters in the crowd photos during his run for the nomination that tell the real story. Or should I say “ex-supporters,” since it just got leaked that Bernie sold you skinny White boys out…for a plane!


            That’s right, a plane! Now we know how HIllary got Bernie’s endorsement!


          • terribletwos

            Blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other. Too many pasty white, middle aged

          • terribletwos

            Your use of the word “ain’t” shows where you are from and how you were educated. How does one put the word “ain’t” into the two words that contractions are used for? Are you educated enough to know what a contraction is? Please give me the English lesson. I would love to see it.
            Trump doesn’t have Cruz’s or Kasich’s endorsement now does he. Or Romney’s. Just to name a few. Many top republicans do not endorse him and many are going to other parties. Oh, btw, Mitch McConnell and company has a plan for ‘The don’ IF he wins. They have already signed their pledge and entitled it the “Obama Treatment”. The good old boys club who are responsible for everyone’s anger with the government, including yours IF you weren’t so blind. Course, you were already a “hater” and Trump just ‘trumped’ it, per your use of the word “token”. My, my, how telling of you. Now go ahead and tell me another lie like, “I am not a racist but…”
            How many people of different ethnic groups speaks for Trump? He does not have them in his crowds either. I see you did not answer that. Would one of them be Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist and abuser of women, in the same club as trump? Hmmm. Tyson didn’t even get up and talk for him, did he. I wonder why good ol’ Jeffrey Epstein didn’t get up and talk for his good friend and pal trump. Isn’t he wearing orange right now? trump’s favorite color. When trump gets one, he really will be the new “Chester Cheetah”.

          • terribletwos

            Article is from Buzz Feed News. Wow. A legit site. NOT. You must be one of those that believe everything on the internet is true. Amazing.

          • terribletwos

            Wow funny. Just like your site. Not worth the words typed on it. Look up the words cognitive dissonance. Still trying to convince me trump isn’t a drumpf? You are failing miserably. We all know the truth Cud-chewer about drumpf. He doesn’t have a diverse crowd, including speakers or in the audience.

          • Kudzu Bob

            Bern victims are so easy to trigger. LOL

          • terribletwos

            Priceless. Pot calling kettle black as if Trump pansies are not easy to trigger. Is your comment an example of academic overthink learned from attending Trump University? ROTFLMAO!

          • Kudzu Bob
          • terribletwos

            Still selling your propaganda? You did not watch the democratic convention so you are not qualified to comment. They did it to every speaker. How about Trump kicking a woman and a baby out because the baby was crying? How about him blabbing to the world of a secret military base in Egypt right after a security briefing? He should not talk about Hillary’s “unsecured” e-mails when he has an unsecured BIG mouth. I thought he was for the military but with his big, unsecured mouth, he just put all of those military personnel lives on the line stationed in Egypt. Care to comment about that?

          • terribletwos

            Bernie fought right alongside the blacks for their civil rights. Where was your guy, trump? Oh that is right, he was busy having his own “private Vietnam”, his sex life (from recordings, live on air from the Howard Stern show). You should really go listen to them and learn, instead of sticking up for some demagogue. Vet your candidate instead of being a sheep, following the hate and stop watching soap-box operas.

          • terribletwos

            Dudette, read this slowly. I. did. it. on. purpose.

          • terribletwos

            My levels of cognitive dissonance are reaching the danger zone when you direct me to go to A communist propaganda site? Seriously dude. Who do you work for, the Kremlin and Putin? Oh, yes, you do. Your are a trump groupie.

    • It would help if you actually read the article before commenting. The article clearly explains why Trump is winning (despite what the click-bait title says)

      • yohami

        The author of the article doesnt understand Trump’s appeal, I invite you to talk to his supporters since you seem to think the author’s point is valid.

        • Chema Villalba

          Yohami, you illustrate the Dunning Kruger syndrome in all its splendor.

        • terribletwos

          Many of us see it as valid.

  • Kudzu Bob

    You are lost because you lack a reliable map of human nature. Wishful thinking and denial make poor guides.

  • SocialFacts

    Can someone @ Evonomics tell me, which definition the author chose when he used the term “govern”, “governing” in this paragraph?

    “What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.”

    So, i looked up @ an dictionary (oxforddictionaries) i get these options: Which of the 3 is the one Lakoff used, or is most similar to what Lakoff means.

    a) Control, influence, or regulate (a person, action, or course of events) ?
    b) Conduct the policy, actions, and affairs of (a state, organization, or people) with authority ?
    c) or something else ?

    • Dr. Red

      The idea of ‘governing’ Lakoff seems to have meant is that of ‘setting down the law’, the imperatives, interdictions and prohibitions set down by a source of authority and by which a group or a family unit regulates its life.

    • Lakoff seems to present the governing institutions as overlays on the substrate of the governing father who is moral judge and executioner. The absolutist autocratic dictatorial representation this evokes is not at all what is happening in families nor in constituencies. The elements of resistance, favoritism, and disagreement are lacking. Lakoff implies these effects by juxtaposing the 3 kinds of Republicans: White Evangelicals, Pragmatic Conservatives and Laissez-Faire Free Marketeers. Reality is never this clean and simple. Needed: analysis of how these groups will conflict! For example, deporting millions of Hispanics will incur a Catholic reaction, the fastest growing congregations in America; jacking up a tariff on imports will lead to other nations jacking up their tariffs on US imports, so these ideas just will not work and pander to emotions not to realities.

      Governance is the cohesive force which soft-pedals or downplays the role of authority, power, control, regulations, etc. The Tea-Party, led by sour grapes McKain, obstructed the Obama Presidency to no avail for 8 years. When the Democratic candidate is settled upon, the lambasting of the Republican attitude towards governance will commence. Inflated Republican ideas will crash and burn. Republican conniving and strategizing with technicalities to disrupt the government will be shown for what they are: useless and wasteful.

  • Dr. Red

    A very inspiring article, especially where it connects the different Republican views by a common logical denominator. The strict father figure complex reflects the socio-psychological profile of the ”authoritarian personality” analyzed by Adorno et al. In this regard the class basis of the lower middle class, white working-class and lumpen proletariat recruited in support of Trump could have been highlighted. A general socio-psychological structure endemic in the ‘authoritarian personality’ is that the class reality and feeling of impotence experienced by this type of individuals seeks to compensate for the sense of impotence by inverted projection. They tend to identify (and thus support) with an idealized figure of themselves (who looks and speaks as an ordinary individual) but who is very powerful, super-rich, popular and famous (attributes trumpeted by Trump). In this sense, Trump is a genuine extreme right-wing ”populist” for present-day US who has given ”voice” (their staunch desire for ‘free speech’) and ‘legitimacy’ to these subdued social categories.

    • Jannik Thorsen

      Adorno and the Frankfurt school inspired research is mostly pseudo science. Adorno tried to pathologize ordinary conservative Americans with this neo marxist research programme. Its an example of ideology trumping science.

      • Dr. Red

        Which is the genuine science according to whose epistemological criteria Adorno’s research is a ‘pseudo-science’? Adorno employed a psychoanalytic categorial framework.

        • Ace Allen

          Many of the conclusions in this article are highly dubious. Are you willing to link to the questionnaire criteria and the raw data?

          • Dr. Red

            Which article?

          • Ace Allen

            I was referring to this article.

            But I’d enjoy a link to the Adorno data as well.

          • Dr. Red

            ‘This article’ is written by Dr. Lakoff not me. Adorno and his research associates have written a two-volume research study (lasting for two and a half years) and involving a multiplicity of research techniques (2000 questionnaires, in-depth interviews, Thematic Apperception Tests, ‘projective’ tests, attitude scales, clinical studies). The research goal was to identify connections between personality traits and ingrained prejudices. The reference is T.W. Adorno et al. The Authoritarian Personality, Parts One & Two (New York: John Wiley & Sons/SCIENCE EDITIONS, 1964). It is worth reading at least for those who appreciate deep thinking.

          • Ace Allen

            Thank you for the citation. I understand that you were not the author of this article. Based on your response, I made the (false) assumption that you were involved somehow in the research.

            The article itself seems rather suspicious, because it assumes a single conservative/liberal axis. As a strong libertarian, I am diametrically opposed to the authoritarian personality. However, I am most often categorized by liberals as a conservative (due to my economic positions) and pigeonholed in arguments. I, of course, do not identify as a conservative in the least bit.

            It seems that the author seems dedicated to simplifying the conservative personality in an attempt to explain conservatives away as simpletons, self-centered and weak-minded. Additionally, it does not appear to associate any good traits to conservatives, with perhaps the exception of the word ‘disciplined’ casually inserted into a plethora if negative traits.

            The author is clearly biased, and it permeates his entire paper. He seems completely blind to anything outside of his own world view, and hence, skews his imperfect understanding of conservatives into his own pigeonhole.

            “at least for those who appreciate deep thinking.”

            I’m curious about this last part of your sentence. I believe I mentioned this in another comment below, but has anyone done a study of the liberal mind? The very fact that you felt the need to add this indicates a certain level of condescension, or at the very least, a poor erudite attempt at intellectual self-promotion.

            Is there a means of understanding how the liberal mind works? I can grasp a conservative thought process much more easily. I do not agree with it, but conservative thought is generally much more forthright and intellectually honest. There anger is often due to being misinformed, but they tend to tolerate other views more readily (but not accept them). The liberal mindset, on the other hand, seems to involve more pathos than logos, a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance and a completely different kind of anger, which I have difficulty comprehending. Generally, I see a similar amount of fear-mongering on both sides. Considering negative bias is a powerful motivator, I suppose it stands to reason that it would be an effective tool in politics as well.

            Still, I can’t help but wonder how two people with completely different world views could be presented with the same data and yet draw two completely different conclusions from it. I say this as a hard scientist, not a social scientist (which probably explains my lack of understanding).

          • Dr. Red

            You are right in stressing the opposition between libertarianism and conservatism. Libertarianism (which is also called ‘anarcho-liberalism’, R. Nozick being one of the greatest expounders of this doctrine) is far more affine to liberalism (by sharing the principle of individualism) than conservatism. Perhaps, the ‘liberals’ you have met with declare themselves as liberals without actually knowing liberalism’s principles. Especially, the point you make about ”intolerance” in handling dissenting views is inimical to a liberal mindset, given that the father of classical liberalism (the philosopher John Locke) has written a whole treatise on ‘tolerance’ and he is the one who has established it as a principle and an incorrigible value in human affairs. When people are angered it stands to reason that they do not abide by reason. In my view, the political public sphere is so much polarized, people’s and politicians’ thinking so much overwhelmed by unexamined emotionality (and the brutal interests they promote) that it is quite often nearly impossible to conduct an unbiased conversation.
            As for the ”deep thinking” quip it was meant to suggest that the said study is a quite complex one (quite unlike to the ‘pop’ simplistic researches now in vogue) and that Adorno, rather than a ‘pseudo-scientist’ as another commentator believes, is one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.

        • Jannik Thorsen

          I consider marxism and psychoanalysis as pseudo scientific theories.

          • Dr. Red

            Anyone is entitled to have a subjectivistic opinion. The point is whether s/he can rationally ground the opinion s/he espouses?

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Its speculative at best, manipulative at worst. “Sense of impotence” is an ideologically loaded expression that suggests that conservatives voting for Trump harbor feelings of inferiority. The very same “diagnosis” could be used to describe many of the other voters, who chose other candidates, whether liberal or conservatives, who want to vote for someone who looks like “one of their own”, but is significantly more succesful compared to themselves. Really, making this analysis quite general in fact, and therefore less novel and illuminating.
            There is just no way to prove this theory right or wrong, it completely defies falsifiability, therefore making it quite dubious.
            As I see it, it looks more like a poor attempt to rationalize why anyone would ever dream of voting for someone like Trump. You and Lakoff have already ruled out that there might be any rational or genuine political ideological reason why one might choose to vote Trump. So instead a psychological route is chosen, where disparaging words like “projection”, “impotence” and “direct causal reasoning” are used to describe Trump voters. Suggesting that these people are mentally inferior or otherwise plagued with some psychological affliction.
            The point is naturally to mask the ideological, typically liberal or marxist message, couched in psychobabble jargon. Its a despicable attempt at manipulation.

          • Dr. Red

            Good try. Lakoff’s essay is an exploratory attempt to provide plausible insights so as to account for Trump’s ”popularity”, not a full-blown research study. Oftentimes the criterion of ‘falsifiability’ is an impossible criterion to apply, not only in social sciences but in ‘positive’ sciences too. (Try to falsify the concept of ”dark energy” with which contemporary theoretical physics attempts to account for the operation of the known universe, except if you deem, as all theories not of your liking, theoretical physics a pseudo-science too). By the way, since you are a Popperian you can go read the direct epistemological debate Popper held with the ‘pseudo-scientist’ Adorno, if you respect scientific normativity and abhor ‘manipulatory ideology’.
            That ‘political ideological reasons’ may account for the support expressed for Trump is a valid claim. But as an “explanatory variable” it cannot explain the exorbitant ”popularity” elicited by Trump since he partakes more or less of the same conservative Republican agenda shared by his competitors in the electoral race. It can account only for slight variations in the distribution of support for the Republican candidates, not for the huge gap, the landslide Trump enjoys over his competitors. The ‘sense of impotence’ is not merely a psychological category (as you read it reductively) but a sociological one too. Sociological research has shown that Trump appeals to major segments of the lower classes (that’s why in my comment I mentioned certain class groupings) which bear strongly a ‘feeling of impotence’ in their psychological make-up, not because they are ”mentally inferior” (this is an elitist conservative jargon) but due to the social circumstances they find themselves (job insecurity, low wages, poverty, located in the lower rungs of the social ladder, no future mentality, oppression by ‘big government’, inability to educate their children, steeped in fear -see the ‘love’ of guns as a pseudo-protective shield-, left behind in the ‘rat race’, xenophobic (which is a pathology!!!) and other socio-cultural traits). This ‘feeling of impotence’ resonates with the ‘sense of potency’ exuded by a paternalist Trump rhetorically, culturally, and socio-psychologically. As far as the ‘ideological dismissive labels’ you attribute to me and Lakoff are concerned, they only ”verify” the veracity of the projective mechanism I mentioned in my comment.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Lakoffs attempt at exploration mostly fails in my opinion, as he is not using a control group to compare with his psycho description of the conservative mind. Its mostly speculation from a clearly liberal point of view. And it is quite evident that he has liberal or left wing leanings.
            Falsifiability is not a perfect criteria, but its a good start. As far as I know there is actually an ongoing discussion in the physics community as to what scientific status various cosmological theories have. This does not necessarily make the ones who have not been tested yet pseudo scientific. They are at the moment just regarded as speculative theories.
            Its a different case with the Frankfurt school naturally. And Adorno most certainly tried to equate right wing or conservative view points with psychopathology. His ideological bias was so blatant it is almost comical to look back at terms like the “Fascist scale”.
            When you further consider the marxist revisionism this bunch of schemers were engaged in, one immediatly understands that cultural subversion comes first and facts come second. They are basically revolutionaries dressed up as researchers, and should naturally be scolded for the demagoguery they historically have been occupied with. “The authoritarian personality” was basically an attempt at submitting the american population to a form of collective psychotherapy, as historian Christopher Lasch aptly noted. And naturally it is both outdated and antiquated social science that for sure would not pass peer review in any serious journal today, except for perhaps the most obscure marxist or postmodern ones. So its pretty much stuff worthy of the thrash bin when evaluated on its cognitive content solely.
            Trump is hardly identical to the other candidates running in the conservative tent. He is pretty much anti-establishment and his programme is molded in similar ways as other right wing “populist” programmes in europe. The candidates and politicians in europe are not similar to Trump in the ways they use rhetoric or their general background. But still many of their policies are similar. Like opposition to big government, or in the case of europe, the EU. A hard line opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism(which has pretty much been a major disaster in all of the western world.)
            The one thing you got right is that trump supporters are frustrated with the establisment (“impotency”). But so are Bernie Sanders supporters, again making the socio-psycho theory to general in scope. And it is hardly adequate to claim that trump supporters are poor or marginalized. The same goes for large swaths of Sanders supporters. Additionally there are simply to many middle class supporters voting for Trump to warant a pure socio-economic explanation. Although it for sure is part of the larger picture. Rather the fierce opposition to immigration, especially illegal immigration is one of the defining factors, in addition to the negative economic and cultural effects this type of immigration has brought with it.
            Despite you claim that “xenophobia” is a mental pathology, there is not much to support the claim that ethnocentrism is in fact this(I am using a more neutral term here, and not a ideologically loaded one).
            Rather it is simply a far to normal phenomena, cross culturally and historically, to be deemed a pathology. It is for good or worse a very ingrained part of human nature. Persons infatuated with marxism and other destructive ideologies will naturally deem it a pathology, just like they did in the soviet union. As it naturally is a huge obstacle to “workers” joining hands and creating a universal workers paradise.
            Concerning the dismissal of the psychobabble you and Lakoff endorse, the dismissal does not verify anthing. And least of all the truth value of these theories. Adorno and critical theorists will remain subverters and fraudsters. While Lakoffs personal musings on Trump and his supporters will hardly get past peer review. Its simply to incoherent and lacks explanatory power. But it was a fun read nevertheless.

          • Dr. Red

            Your choleric response does not deserve an answer.

  • HalMorris

    My problem with the “conservatives are a product of one kind of upraising; liberals of another is that liberalism/conservatism tends to be a hall of mirrors, especially when looked at historically. To start with, conservatives used to be conservative; they were not for radical experiments; they did not bleed into radical libertarianism, as now. They did not say “Let’s cut the revenue in half and see what happens” or “Let’s completely privatize schools”, “let’s stop legislating to ensure that this Democratic presidency is a failure”. Their leadership has ways of spinning this radicalism so that it sounds conservative, like “there were no state schools in Lincoln’s day” (well, there were some, including U.Va, the brainchild the small state hero, Jefferson), The income tax has only been around for 100 years so preserving it isn’t really preserving the status quo. Not all, but many revolutionary movements have been about reclaiming some golden past. The most radical 17c Englishmen, in a strand of though that kept going at least up to the American Revolution, proclaimed a return to the good old Anglo-Saxon days, when there was so much less social inequality.

    Republicans used to tend to be isolationist, which was a big problem for FDR. War was expensive and not good for business.

    Finally, the “Party of Jackson” had far more in common with today’s GOP – anti federal meddling in finance, anxious to go to war, pro states rights, with populist anti-intellectual tendencies, while the Whigs and the early Republicans, who mostly evolved out of Whigs, favored large federal projects like road-building and improvement of shipping channels (the “infrastructure” of the day). If you accept that the two parties managed to virtually trade places, and to some extent they had to do this one piece at a time (the intro of the “Southern Strategy” being one; the GOP becoming more militaristic and democrats less another; Teddy Roosevelt’s “progressivism” and taking on the monopolies passing to the Democrats yet another), how could that be if there is this two modes of child rearing polarity-thing to keep everything magnetically aligned?

    • anotherneighborhoodactivist

      Part of the problem is that liberal/conservative does not explain the Democrats own fault line—liberal v neoliberal.

      Also, TR’s progressivism faded away quickly under Taft. Remember that TR became disgusted with Taft’s corporatist tendencies and ruined Taft’s second term by running as a third party candidate, giving the Whitehouse to Wilson, a Democrat. The Republicans moved right thereafter and have not had more than a small portion of “moderates” let along progressives ever since.

  • Paulo Pinheiro

    So, moderates, who think there are truths and something to learn from both sides, are the ones who are victims of neurological mutual inhibition?

  • jayrayspicer

    “Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.”

    It seems much more likely that the causal relationship is the other way ’round: people uncomfortable with complex reasoning tend to be conservative, because the conservative worldview is just cognitively simpler: “All you need is common sense”, “Traditional ways are best”, “My culture is best”, “My religion is best”, “My race is best”, “Foreign ways are wrong and scary”, “Family knows best”, “Father knows best”, “The market knows best”, “Don’t tell me what to do”, “Free speech is good”, “Political correctness is bad”, “Government is the problem”, “The private sector is always efficient”, “The government is never efficient”, “Regulations are bad”, “The best answer to gun violence is more guns”, “Just bomb them until they see it our way”.

    This is why there’s no Frank Luntz for the Democrats; conservative ideas fit on bumper stickers, because they’re simplistic. Conservatives seem allergic to nuance, because they can’t understand the complexity of the real world, or they don’t have the patience to bother trying, or they simply don’t want the more complex version of reality to be true. And yes, I could be accused of oversimplifying here, but my explanation fits the above-mentioned empirical research, and in any case, simple explanations aren’t necessarily wrong, but if you insist on a simple explanation for everything, then you probably are. Besides, there has to be a reason why some people reject the authority of their fathers and father figures. I’m pretty sure that reason is that they’re smart enough see that their fathers’ worldviews fail to adequately explain the world around them.

    So of course demagogues appeal to conservatives. And for the same reason they don’t sound like professors. If you’re going to whip up support from rubes, you have to speak on their level. The only real mystery is why Trump didn’t break thru the first time he ran for president.

  • Pingback: No One Knows Why Trump Is Winning. Here’s What Cognitive Science Says. (Link) – Aware & Fair()

  • jayrayspicer

    Some of them. But in my experience, progressives are far more likely than conservatives to be open to new evidence and to changing their minds when the evidence warrants. And of course, openness to new ideas is one of the core principles of progressivism, whereas rejecting new ideas is pretty much the definition of conservatism. But feel free to argue that Trump supporters are open-minded.

    • yohami

      Trump supporters are not open minded, Im contesting that progressives are. Feminists, black live matters, the new segregation, socialism, safe spaces, censorship, “reverse racism”, intersectionality, PC, etc. It’s the death of the mind.

      Have you seen a progressive change their minds against the indoctrination? or just change it to become more indoctrinated?

      “progressives are far more likely than conservatives to be open to new evidence and to changing their minds when the evidence warrants.”

      How about when the evidence goes against what they believe in?

      • jayrayspicer

        Ah yes, the terrifying specter of political correctness, feminism, socialism, and Black Lives Matter. Because it’s just so damn frustrating when people insist on a little respect and equality. These are the things that frighten you?

        Yes, I’ve seen many progressives change their minds upon encountering new evidence. Again, it’s one of the core principles of progressivism.

        • yohami

          See? a little disagreement and you’re already trying to attack me. You just made my point.

          • jayrayspicer

            Your point, yohami, was to frame a laundry list of ridiculous right-wing complaints in the form of a loaded proposition to goad progressives. You certainly didn’t float that list to see if I could approach it with an open mind, so I don’t see how I could have proved your point. You presented no evidence or even arguments. All I could have done was agree with your statement or dismiss it with the ridicule it deserves. Nothing about your question invited careful consideration of any of the items you mention. It was merely a dare.

            And really? Death of the mind? At most, some of these things are nuisances. Most of them are demands for justice and equality. And however much you see them as an existential threat, not one of the bogeymen on your list has even come close to preventing people like you from doing or saying just what you want.

          • yohami


            “Your point, yohami, was to frame a laundry list of ridiculous right-wing complaints in the form of a loaded proposition to goad progressives.”

            Nope, and Im not right wing.

            “You certainly didn’t float that list to see if I could approach it with an open mind, so I don’t see how I could have proved your point.”

            I listed a bunch of postures within the progressive people that demonstrate the opposite of an open mind, because of their indoctrinated fervor (that matches what you critiqued on the right)

            “You presented no evidence or even arguments.”

            I did. The argument is that progressives are as indoctrinated as you would expect from a religious indoctrinated person. The evidence was the list I followed with.

            “All I could have done was agree with your statement or dismiss it with the ridicule it deserves.”

            See? That’s not open minded, that’s black and white, taking sides and being an aggressor. The open minded posture is to take in the evidence, analyse it, find truth, discard lies or misrepresentations, keep moving forward to wherever the reality leads you, this:

            “the ridicule it deserves.”

            Is your jerk-knee reaction. That’s not an open mind, that’s the result of being invested in a posture and trying to pick on the other side. In this case Im not even on the other side, Im just outside. The world is bigger than this black / white representation you made it to be.

            “Nothing about your question invited careful consideration of any of the items you mention. It was merely a dare.”

            For an open minded, EVERYTHING is an invitation to consideration. In your case you jumped to bite. Revise your assumptions.

            “And really? Death of the mind?”

            Yes. When you look at the people on the right and the “our culture is best because it’s what we know”, do you see them as alive or as part zombies? are their minds bright or stupid? You can see their patterns, why keep yours?

            “At most, some of these things are nuisances.”


            “Most of them are demands for justice and equality.”

            They are not. They are complete frameworks to frame reality in a specific way where rules apply different to themselves vs other people, justified through history (revisionism), identity plays, tribalism, etc. It’s not pretty. BUT, even if the truth was in their side (it’s not), people in these factions are not open minded, and questioning their assumptions (valid or not) brings them to attack, kind of like you did here.

            “And however much you see them as an existential threat”

            I dont see them as a threat: you saw me as a threat. YOU are the one reacting and attacking. It’s YOU who is scared and trying to bite. It’s YOU who is close minded. It’s YOU who is doing tribalism and assuming a disagreeing voice must belong to your enemy tribe and thus must be ridiculed. It’s YOU. You’re projecting here. Projecting your own tribalism and fanatism and indoctrination into others. Which, let’s say it’s not a crime or anything, it’s just not “open minded”, which was my argument when I made my original comment.

            “not one of the bogeymen on your list”

            They are not bogeymen, they are factions of very indoctrinated people with very closed minds.

            “has even come close to preventing people like you from doing or saying just what you want.”

            But you just tried, you know, “let’s just ridicule it”. And “people like me” is an adhominem and an identity play – instead of going for the idea, you attack the person, “people like me” which you know nothing about, but you’re prone to attack and ridicule, because you heard a disagreement. See? it’s YOU, my friend.

            Look around and you’ll see all the attempts at censorship, safe spaces, de-platforming, even burning of books, all based in race sex gender class etc, all rooted in tribalism, cosigns, group pride, identity play, and zero-tolerance-and-complete-absense-of-openness-to-diverging-ideas-or-any-kind-of-self-critique, in other words, what you would expect from the religious right. A very, very closed mind, almost suffocated, that can only process bits of information that conform to the existing bias, and furiously attacks and tries to convert anything that moves.

            Same disease, different flavour.


          • Jannik Thorsen

            Great comment. Many progressives are just as fanatic as the religious zealots. I think you are completely right with this analysis.

          • Ace Allen

            That is a very interesting and thoughtful rebuttal. I wonder if the author would ever deign to analyze the psychological profile of liberals in the same way. Even the wording in this article implies that progressives are right and conservatives are wrong.

            It would definitely appear that this article is more about setting the progressives’ own cognitive dissonance at ease than attempting to understand those with differing viewpoints.

            (And before the insults fly at me for saying this, I am not a conservative, either)

        • Jannik Thorsen

          One thing is theory another is practice. It might be a core principle, but it is rarely obeyed in real life.
          “Respect” and “equality” are ideologically loaded Words. Its not evident that PC, feminism, socialism, etc. entail these ideals in practice, its contested. Just like communist regimes historically did not entail a “workers paradise”. Nor that anybody would pursue these ideals unconditionally.
          You are just engaging in partisan politics.

    • jmdesp

      Try to explain progressives that they are getting it wrong about nuclear, like James Hansen himself has been trying to do for a few years now, that they will not solve climate change without nuclear, and you wont be convinced anymore that they are willing to change their mind based on evidence, including the one that the use of nuclear has saved about 1,8 millions life by reducing air pollution, and that the impact of even worst nuclear accident is absolutely minuscule compared to that.

      • jayrayspicer

        I used to be fairly opposed to nuclear, but I think with certain safeguards it could work acceptably. There are new reactor designs that just go into a low-energy idle state when everything goes wrong, unlike the reactors used to date.

        There’s still the problem of radioactive waste. It’s not clear that our species knows how to be responsible with materials that stay hazardous for 10,000 years, considering the longest planning horizon we ever seem to use is about 40 years for depreciation schedules. But I don’t think these problems couldn’t be worked out. And definitely the nuclear industry has been several orders of magnitude safer than the coal industry, even counting Chernobyl and Fukushima.

        On the other hand, I’m not convinced that nuclear power is *required* in the mix to deal with global warming. I think estimates of the uptake of renewables and hydrogen are too conservative, just as coal is dying faster than anybody expected.

        • Jannik Thorsen

          Lakoffs theory of conservatives preferring direct or simple causality is completely baseless. He simply is not engaging with the more complex arguments put forth in support of conservative positions, as he prefers to argue with strawmen in his liberal bubble.
          And many progressive liberals will for sure NOT change their minds in the face of evidence contradicting their worldview. You are simply just wrong.

          • jayrayspicer

            Despite the counterexample I already offered of myself changing my mind about nuclear power.
            I think Lakoff has it about right. Conservatives are more likely to boil things down to such statements as “You are simply just wrong.” Progressives are more likely to frame things as “more likely” or “less likely”. Binary thinking is certainly simpler.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            I have changed my mind multiple times on different issues, but it matters little. Anecdotal evidence does not prove anything in the larger picture. Learn the basic principles of scientific reasoning.
            Assigning probabilities to various statements is not always meaningful. Claiming yourself to be more open or a more sophisticated reasoner, due to using probabilistic reasoning, is just an attempt at sophistry.
            In fact your whole worldview strikes me as overly simplistic when you split politics into two camps. The simple and dogmatic “conservative” on the one hand, and the sophisticated scientifically minded liberal on the other hand. Its a load of nonsense. As there are many modern day self procaimed liberals who are firmly entrenched in their worldview, and not the least bit open to contradicting evidence.
            You are heavily biased, as is Lakoff. Its easy to see through.

          • jayrayspicer

            So people don’t change their minds, except when they do, which doesn’t prove that they do, and “it matters little” when they change their minds. The plural of anecdote is not evidence, but that doesn’t mean that anecdotes don’t have any evidential value. Yeah, I’m not the one struggling with scientific reasoning. And why are you even commenting if there’s no point trying to change people’s minds?

            You haven’t seen enough of my worldview to say anything about the whole of it. Political/ideological thought covers a spectrum along multiple dimensions. I never said their were just two camps. That’s you projecting.

            Sure, there are closed and open minds across the political spectrum. But that hardly invalidates Lakoff’s research. Conservatives are *more likely* to be closed-minded. That sort of comes with the definition of conservatism (preferring traditional ways, being wary of new approaches), and Lakoff’s research confirms it. Certainly some liberals are so open-minded that their brains fall out, and others are just rooting for their team without thinking, like a lot of conservatives. But numbers matter, because, you know, science. It’s not black and white, but the numbers skew in a particular direction.

            Conservatism clearly encourages closed-mindedness by resisting changes to traditional approaches, and closed-minded people are more likely to choose to adopt conservatism. Or do you think religious fundamentalists are equally likely to describe themselves as conservative or liberal? Because if you think that, your scientific observation skills are lacking.

            Everybody’s biased. Cognitive biases are rampant. Studying them and coming to conclusions about them is an attempt to overcome them. Not sure why you’d find that so troublesome.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Remember what you wrote yourself:
            “Despite the counterexample I already offered of myself changing my mind about nuclear power.”
            This is not a counter example to anything, its purely anecdotal. Just like me changing my mind about some issue, based one evidence, is not indicative of people identifying as right wing in general. Its fairly straightforward what i meant. You are deliberately trying to present my point as confused and muddled.
            I comment because I might occasionally come across an interesting argument or link to some article or study. I dont really believe that I can convince anyone based on what I write in some comment section. I am not delusional.
            I am not projecting, as you are yourself using the liberal/conservative dichotomy. I find this distinction far to simplistic bordering on the useless.
            I wont deny that conservatives, and especially religious conservatives, have a tendency to embrace dogmatism. But then again, the right wing of politics embraces far more positions and camps than the traditional religious factions. For this reason I am very skeptical of Lakoffs grand assertions and simplistic generalisations. Outside of a US context the liberal/conservative distinction makes even less sense, further weakening Lakoffs generalisations.
            There are many people in europe that identify as conservative traditional muslims, but still tend to vote and support leftwing parties and ideologies. Does this make them progressive or conservative, or are they just being opportunistic, because they want free stuff and parties that cater to their interests? Not easy to tell from simple observation, even if my observational skills are not lacking.
            there is a difference between recognizing cognitive bias and embracing it.

          • jayrayspicer

            “I wont deny that conservatives, and especially religious conservatives, have a tendency to embrace dogmatism. But then again, the right wing of politics embraces far more positions and camps than the traditional religious factions.”
            Seriously? Politics is more splintered than religion? That strikes me as exceedingly unlikely. In any case, conservatism is clearly more inclined toward dogmatism than liberalism, considering that dogmatism is one of the things that liberalism explicitly rejects and conservatism is essentially based on.
            In any case, OK, you don’t find Lakoff compelling. Are you aware of more nuanced research attempting to find correlations between various political and personality attributes? Or do you think the subject area itself is intractable?

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Politics is probably not more splintered than religion, I think you are right. My point is that certain religiously based parties have a tendency to embrace many of the same policies. A christian and a muslim traditionalist has a tendency to support that same types of policy. Despite huge theological differences.
            In theory liberalism should be more inclined towards openness than conservatism(and i am using the term in a broad and vague sense here), but in practice this is often not the case. For instance many liberals reject evolutionary explanations of human behavior, if these expalnations are opposed to liberal ideology. When we start looking at actual policies, more often than not, they are more informed by ideology as opposed to (social)science. And this naturally for the entire political spectre.
            No I am not aware of any other research on this area that has produced a comprehensive theory. If you are, I would much appreciate a link.
            In any case, I am not a fan of the research that tries to squeeze politics into two camps, or two psychologies. this strikes me as an unnecessary reductionism. Much nuance is lost along the way. So I dont think the issue is intractable, if done right.

          • jayrayspicer

            “…in practice this is often not the case.” True. But there is a difference between absolute numbers and percentages. Liberals can certainly be closed minded and more tribal than they think they are. But they are less prone to this than conservatives are, because liberals prize openness and tolerance as fundamental aspects of liberalism itself, whereas conservatives openly scoff at such things, preferring to emphasize uniformity, loyalty, and tradition. The different ends of the spectrum have different aspirations. Whether they live up to those aspirations is a different question, but if you’re not even aiming for something, it’s hard to hit it.

            There are not exactly two camps. The same bad behaviors span the political and ideological landscape. But clearly, some parts of the landscape are more prone to certain behaviors than other parts are. Lakoff may not have a very good map yet, but at least he’s trying to survey the terrain. Unless you know of a better cartographer (and I don’t either), you might want to be a little less dismissive.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            My problem is that this label “conservative” is not really representative of people on the right all together. I also think that the terms “openness” and “tolerance” are some what vague. I certainly dont think people on the right in general are less open towards new knowledge, compared to people on the left. That is unless we are talking about the subset of religious conservatives. But this group is only a demographic factor in the US, they are a tiny fraction in Europe. Claiming right wing supporters are anti-science makes little sense in especially a European context.
            “Tolerance” is also a very misused term in modern political discourse. People on the left who claim to be very tolerant most certainly are not tolerant of certain ideas and behaviours. So my problem is both the reductionism associated with the two camp dichotomy, and the semantic vagueness of certain terms. And then there are cases that dont fit the neat categories. Like say the conservative muslim liberal or socialist. And these groups are actually pretty common.
            If you have a very bad map, there is no reason to stick to it what so ever. I prefer remaining agnostic on certain questions, and then wait until something better comes along. As opposed to sticking with theories that can be seriously misleading. I think Lakoffs theory is one of those.

          • jayrayspicer

            Just because there’s no such thing as an average person, the concept is still useful. Yes, labels can be problematic, and individuals are more complicated than a handful of labels. Still, people self-label and organize around labels, so large groups do fit the labels to some degree. Without sorting things into groups, it’s kinda hard to find associations in data.
            My point about conservatives rejecting the new and different I think is valid. It’s one of the defining characteristics of conservatism. We shouldn’t be too shocked when conservatives exhibit behavior in line with the ideology. And I don’t think it’s limited to religious conservatism, though I agree that US conservatism is a special brand of crazy compared to Europe. Do European conservatives reject the reality of global warming, as they do in the States?
            Obviously no group perfectly adheres to its own ideology, left or right. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough adherence to be meaningful.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            I am not against the use of categorization as such. Obviously its a hallmark of science, and some element of reductionism is inevitable if you want to make any progress. But things can also become to simplified, as in using just two categories, when its evident that one could easily make use of 3 or 4 without muddying the picture too much.

            Not to the same degree as in the US probably. There is no strong religious conservatism in most of western europe, as the countries have been thoroughly secularized. But most people observe christian traditions, even if they reject most of the metaphysical or spiritual dimensions associated with christianity. There is no such thing as a creation “science” movement. The right in europe is not anti-science any more than the left is. The most conservative elements of society are mostly immigrants from muslim countries. And this segment overwhelmingly vote for left wing parties, which complicates the picture drastically.

            Even if most countries have a political system with many parties, they have been roughly divided into two camps. But only roughly, and in many cases this pattern easily breaks down. Especially in countries that form party coalitions. There is also a much stronger socialist tradition. Some conservative parties are pro big government, others support small government. The labels “liberal” and “conservative” perhaps make alot of sense in a US context. But these labels are in many cases far less useful in a European context. And that is my point, Lakoffs theory is mostly applicable in a US context, very much specific to a certain context, but therefore less general. Therefore I remain very skeptical, when I compare his theory to the knowledge I have of European politics.

  • Ordinary Citizen Jo


  • PJ Cornell

    Not a horrible article, overall, but your analysis of the laissez faire ideology is shallow and incomplete. It’s an ideal that stems from self ownership, not control over others. Also, your decision to lump tens of millions of people into one group and make broad generalizations of their self image based on a handful of policy choices is, well… bigoted.

  • D. James

    Academic Over-Think. The problem is FEAR. Conservatives are terrified people. My view is that there is sort of a stagger-step of evolution – fear used to be a very valuable survival trait. Not so much anymore. Religion is fear – a mental-illness level of fear. Progressives are people who have moved on… conservative have not – they’re stuck and so cling to religion, guns, authority figures, and MAMA – male or female… and fear/hate anyone not just like themselves. Trump simply knows how to speak to their fears.

    • Wile E. Coli

      “Progressives are people who have moved on… conservative have not”

      A perfect example of why Trump is leading now. Americans are very tired of this faux elitism from arrogant liberals. It isn’t fear. It is anger and disgust.

      • Tom Walker

        Sorry Wile! Watch when the General Election rolls around. The Conservatives will be selling Fear and Propaganda, ie. Isis, immigrants, LGBT, etc. If you wish to buy in to that, go for it. Progressives are looking for someone to lead us toward a bigger, more prosperous existence. They don’t have to give me anything except hope for a better society and equality. “Faux elitism from arrogant liberals”, Please!!

        • Wile E. Coli

          That was so sweet.. I saw fairies and unicorns reading that.

          • terribletwos

            Your brain on drugs, perhaps?

    • terribletwos

      They have been “trumped”, “apprenticed” and “schlonged” and don’t even see it.

    • Gavin Smith

      You’re a disgusting bigot.

    • Jannik Thorsen

      It is not a hallmark of conservatives to be “terrified people”. It is an evolved trait to fear when threats are present, its just part of human nature.
      Its pure nonsense to speculate that liberals no longer “fear”. They just fear different things. Many liberals for sure have a raging hate towards anyone who does not share their worldview, and their progressive ideals. Your analysis is completely useless as it is so blatantly biased.

      • terribletwos

        And you are not “biased” in the least little bit? Surely, you jest.

        • Jannik Thorsen

          No offcourse I dont. When I say that both liberals and conservatives, or any other Group of people for that matter, have certain fears, I am being unbiased. Fear is a natural phenomena, also when taken into the social and political realm.
          It is extremely biased to claim that conservatives fear, while liberals dont. I claim everybody fears, just different things, and exactly therefore I am not biased.

          • anotherneighborhoodactivist

            That’s pretty contorted logic. Yes, it’s bias to say one group is biased and its mirror is not. However, you then leap to “I’m not biased” solely because you point out that truth?

            Yes, everyone has fears. My understanding of Lakoff’s analysis is that he is identifying the respective fears of liberals and conservatives based on their respective pedagogical upbringing. This short essay linking Lakoff to Alice Miller makes some of the connections.

            As a token liberal, I’ll tell you my major fear (aside from ‘of death’): that humans will let their selfishness override their cooperativeness and fail to heed the reality of the physical situation (resource limits, overpopulation, global warming) resulting in terrible consequences for our descendants and a major portion of the biosphere.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            You are taking my words out of context. I am not claiming that I never am biased in anything I do. No one is. I was addressing a very specific comment. And I dont see what it is exactly that makes me biased, when I point out that liberals and conservatives have different fears. I think thats a very unbiased statement. No contorted logic there.
            I am not to sure about the causal effect of pedagogical upbringing on political views. There are simply to many factors at work which determine a persons ideological conviction. But I am not an expert on either Alice Miller or Lakoff, so I wont pass to much judgement. My critique is mainly based on the above article.
            I also have some fear regarding the future of this World. But I am far less optimistic than you are. Selfishness will for sure override som global humanitarian ethic(which is a fully western idea completely alien to the rest of the World). And while it is possible that the western world will limit its use of limited ressources, through investing in the use of cleaner technology, most of the rest of the world wont go down the same path to anywhere near the same degree.
            The third World is booming economically and want growth at any price, and as fast as possible. Coupling this desire with huge population growth, especially in africa, and a disaster is looming. Especially when poor africans and middleeasterners become impatient and decide to head for the western World. Cooperation wont help much as fundamental interests are clashing. The future is looking quite grim I must say.

          • anotherneighborhoodactivist

            Fair enough. I recommend Alice Miller’s book on the subject.

            Also, I’m not so sure you’re less optimistic than I am. What gave you that impression? I have a five page reading list on sustainability from Malthus to Georgescu-Roegen to Daly to Schramski et al. 2015. My current motto: Entropy Über Alles. But I’m not too worried about invading hoards; by the time people in the poor south realize it’s time to move north, transport systems won’t be capable of handling very many.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Thanks for the recommendation.
            Perhaps not. I got this impression based on your fear of groups of humans not being able to cooperate in the future. Implying that cooperation would somehow make it possible to avert some of the looming catastrophies.
            I dont share this optimism. I dont think different nations and civilizations will cooperate extensively in the future, nor that it will matter that much anyway, as the problems already appear insurmountable, and only will worsen in the future. Even the EU has huge problems cooperating internally once fundamental interests are at stake, or different ideological perceptions clash.
            I am very worried about these invading hoards. Transport systems dont matter that much in the large scheme of things. So far poor infrastucture and old patched up ships and boats have been sufficient to aid these hoardes in reaching the shores of europe in significant numbers. And in the last few years it has only escalated. Human traficking has become a huge industry.
            Poor transport facilities has so far not been any deterrent. So I for sure dont share your optimism, as populations will grow substantially in the coming 50-100 years in the aforementioned regions.

          • anotherneighborhoodactivist

            I believe things will fall apart long before the scenario you fear occurs.

          • Jannik Thorsen

            Lol. Perhaps you are more pessimistic than me. I fear things will really get out of hand in just the next 20-30 years or so, and I will therefore most likely live to experience this.
            I suspect population growth in africa wil be the main driver of this variant of a malthusian apocalypse. But naturally, I really hope that I am wrong.

          • anotherneighborhoodactivist

            FYI, this came in today, might be of some interest on the prior topic (liberals cf conservatives):

            p.s. I’m bringing this up as a messenger, not an advocate, although like the ccw blog author, as a creative “liberal” I tend to be more open minded. 😉

          • terribletwos

            Riiiiiight. So which are you a conservative or a liberal?

          • Jannik Thorsen

            None. I dont even live in the US.

          • terribletwos

            That leans to the right.

          • Jason Keller

            Philip Rieff had some interesting insights into the problem of corporate identities and it sounds like you’re attempting to map out the problems that come with naturalizing a commitment of a specific grouping through the very real biological expression of fear. I agree, flinging the word of pathology onto the opposition just facilitates the normalization of our own fears as more reasoned than the other guy. Pathology seems to be far more commonly used to remark on a behavior that appears unintelligible to it’s opposition. Although I’m not one to resort quickly to human nature, an increasingly murkier reference that’s more and more a moving target given the codependency of evolutionary and behavior feedback loops, I will side with Dunbar’s analogous portrait of primates and the predation clustering that happens as a continuation of this trait that continued into the human. And Rieff, cultural pontificator, at least defended the analytical attitude not on the grounds of it being a science but what he called a negative identity, or a negative field whose community was made up of members that were more uncomfortably unified through a mutual caution if not out right suspicion of the dormant urge towards a corporate and mythologizing identity (another avenue towards a reification of ideology). He even comments on the luxury of the psychoanalytic field as one of fairly stable and industrialized societies, that it isn’t science as much as originating post industrial wealth. I would put Adorno in this camp, but also blinded by the historical urgency or what you call dangerous ideology, but he then was facing an even more dangerous ideology. I do think Popper was of the same spirit, he just wanted firmer grounds of rejection, knowing that Adorno’s unfalsifiable theories was a two way street, our gains would eventually be our losses as they caught on and employed the same softening of verifications (undermining climate change comes to mind). I find Rieff more useful because he was well past attempting to vindicate Freud by placing him back on the mantel of the sciences (kahnemann would fair better because he at least understood basic statistical needs and replication). Rieff was attempting to extract what could still be useful after the pigs breakfast his acolytes made of his theories. Basically Freud’s most visible students attempted to reincorporate (jung most notoriously) his ideas into a larger belief system (normalizing their own positions and ignoring their own therapeutic impulses towards a larger commitment, defecting from Freud’s fundamental insight, that one cannot cleanse themselves of the therapeutic impulse that is imbued with all efforts of corporate identity). Rieff also thinks Freud was far from erecting a rigorous social science, as much as he forged the spirit of what a negative sociologist would attempt to do, or how Freud analogously defined adulthood: a constant negotiation between seemingly opposed domains of the mind. Lakoff comes closest to identifying this negotiation via the Moderate in the above writing piece. I wish Lakoff avoided the allure of his own narrative and stuck to the simple and revealing heuristic that can be extracted from Trump’s solutions proposed on the trail and as president elect. They all can be clustered into what I would deem the solutions of a naive epistemology, and here is my own leap, a longing for a direct and clear causal link between problem and solution. It’s like we miss the good old days of disproportion scaling up of heuristic beyond it’s specific domain. I do find Trumps solutions to have a common theme, one loved by his base for being legible with clear deliverables (even if at best stabs in the effective dark). His most concrete solution, a literal concrete wall no less with accompanying web of drones, may not yield results, but it’s far more comforting to his base if they can go on google maps and point at a large something and say that was finished as well as understand the solution proposed. This is why Rieff is fascinating, because he takes the biological need of predation clustering into the modern world, where that need is not salient or immediate, but the urge is still there, so we adopt an ideology that could serve the same purpose. Again, like all social theory, and speculative, and only works as an explanation if it provides a degree of predictiveness.

    • Ace Allen

      It’s the same with liberals, too. Liberals pedal fear of guns, fear of GMOs, fear of hydraulic fracturing, fear of the rich, etc.

      Same coin; different side. Don’t think you’re better, or immune.

    • Jon Brown

      And you are an obvious progressive given how condescending you are to think that you know more about the topic than this academic over-thinker. And it isn’t the fact that you aren’t like me – that makes me think you are an ugly person. It’s your sense of moral superiority. So here’s one straight from the far right. You are just a fucking cuck.

      • anotherneighborhoodactivist

        Sure, and you drop in half a year later to post this?

  • yohami

    Im a regular reader / commenter of that blog – there’s nothing there that can be labeled as angry / racist, no more than any other comment section like this one, where people like you label entire groups for no reason. Very feeble.

    • robertmkadar

      All. Let’s end this discussion. Thanks.

  • The article posted cartoonish views on why Americans are conservative. Here are some better ones: TMI. There’s far too much information involved in “running the economy” in the manner that Democrats would love to be able to do. Conservatives know this. Socialism has failed whenever it has been tried because of this. Equality is a false value. All attempts to enforce it will fail since human beings are inherently unequal. Conservatives know this. Pacifism means the bad guys win. Conservatives know this. I have a bunch more, but no more time. Have fun.

  • Peter Kahlke Olesen

    Political correctness has little to do with anti-bigotry. It may have started as that, but has become mob rule and thought policing. The anti-bigots are no less bigoted than those they claim to oppose, and a lot of Trump’s success springs from him being the only one who challenges these ideas. Some people actually do care about free speech.

  • Chiara

    Trump is attracting people across the political spectrum, including Democrats, African Americans and Hispanic citizens and immigrants! The sole reason being, the masses are fed up with the Status Quo and would love to see a ‘rotten tomato throwing contest’ at the Establishment. The appetite for revenge is increasing every decade because of deeply failed policies and a system that is rigged against the little guy! This does not require party affiliation/ideology in order for people to participate. Trump is a product of the Status Quo yet the very Status Quo WILL USE Trump and his appetite for authoritarianism to install a full blown police state. All the components are already there and have been put into place with BI PARTISAN approval through the legislature. Come on people, wake the hell up from the Illusion called the Democrat and Republican parties!

    • Trisha Fisher

      Not really true, statistics show that the majority of democrats, African Americans, Hispanics and women do not support Trump. If fact Hispanic immigrants are registering to vote at a high volume to vote against Trump in November.

      • Chiara

        I didn’t say the majority. I said he attracts people from across the political spectrum.

  • William P. Kreml

    There is much truth in what you write. But there is another layer. Please repair to philosophy, the Queen of the Sciences, sitting atop The Pyramid of Knowledge. You will find that the constructs of the analytic and synthetic cognitions transcend the socialized, family-oriented explanations you proffer. What I did in my academic career was rejoin psychology with philosophy. In other words, the analytic and synthetic knowledge forms are not mere abstractions; they are real forms of thinking, all of us falling along a spectrum that prefers these two monumental philosophical concepts in different dollops. Please read The Bias of Temperament in American Politics, Second Edition, now in paperback from Carolina Academic Press, Durham. It describes an original political ideology, one based on psychology and acting as a subjectively-based cross-weave to the objectively-based (ethnicity, income, gender, etc,) ideologies we have restricted ourselves to for too long. Years ago, I wrote The Anti-Authoritarian Personality, completing the authoritarian model across the affective, or feeling, spectrum. My editor was Hans J. Eysenck at Pergamon.

  • Kahne O’Banion

    What you deem as Authoritarian or Father Figure is a mere generalization that ignores the individuality of a group…..I would love to know what you think of the utter anarchy and idiocy of the tyrannical left, who have safe spaces because they cannot intellectually process their views, but instead are paid to wreak violence and mayhem against those with whom they disagree… would seem to me a good generalization of the left who support Bernie Sanders and Hillary, are people who have had NO STRUCTURE OR ORGANIZATION whereby laws and rules are to be ignored and instead helicopter parenting has created dependency on outside influences instead of themselves…….like lack of a father figure is the foundation of whining and violence.

  • Kahne O’Banion

    It is my opinion that Trump supporters are the people who have not only been ignored by both parties, the working class, who are not only looked down upon by people of the established party proletariat, but the same working class that has been left behind to foot all the bills for programs that do not benefit them……your soul searching and generslizations about all people on the right who support Trump, leaves out an entire group on the left that support Trump……the people who are told to sit down and do what your leaders tell you to do……it is that simple.

    • terribletwos

      Doesn’t explain those on welfare voting for Trump, does it?

  • Wile E. Coli

    Trump is winning because Americans have been taking the brunt of liberal intolerance, racism and hatred for so long that they will even allow a guy like Trump to succeed. It is a pendulum and liberals have pushed it way too far thinking they had finally killed off what was left of Conservative America. Now, it is swinging back to hit us all in the face. Pretty simple stuff. This article over analyzed all of it.

  • terribletwos

    In other words. people have been “trumped”, “apprenticed” and even “schlonged”.

  • James Wilk

    I don’t think any attempt to explain Donald Trump’s popularity is complete without taking the Dunning-Kruger effect into account.

  • Arthur Viente

    Excellent article, except the author overlooks one very important element of Trump…he is a con artist and one of the best ever. So although what the author writes has merit and makes complete sense, he is giving too much credit to Trump without pointing out the motivation behind the actions.

  • Craig Jones

    Like most things it’s multi factorial and trying to explain with a simplistic approach is appealing because we feel we can then understand something we dont. For example one could argue tribalism is why people have inconsistent views. We simply care not about the issues but having views that align us with the tribe we want to belong too. This is easily applied and can be argued for almost every human decision. It also makes a lot of sense so it becomes an easy sell and can be backed up with endless data and cherry picking of non causal arguments. It may or may not be a small explanation but one thing is certain it’s impossible to quantify it’s validity and the respect it gets should be limited to fun discussion and not a serious conclusion

  • Jannik Thorsen

    This article has a couple of interesting insights, but it is mostly just an example of a liberal academic pathologizing and patronizing people who tend to vote conservative.

    There are som quite baseless assumptions stated in this article which illustrate well that Lakoff has an ideological agenda he wants to push.

    “Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance.”
    This idea of racial and gender superiority is completely unfounded. The truth is that the liberal media and education system have been pathologizing and belittling this particular demographic segment with the use of childish and pseudoscientific ideas like “patriachy” and “White privilege”.
    Lakoff is ignoring the wider social context and more or less confirming the liberal worldview, that these Trump supporters are in fact “bigots”. A good example that confirms that he is indeed very biased in his analysis.
    His assertion that liberals primarily engage in systemic causal thinking while conservatives employ simple causal reasoning strikes me as a dishonest manipulative attempt at convincing the reader that conservatives are some what mentally inferior. It must be so comforting to assure oneself that liberals are so much more deep thinking and engaged in complex reasoning, but offcourse it is just wishfull thinking. Which underscores how fraudulent Lakoff is with this piece of research.
    Right wing enclined people are also engaged in systemic causal thinking when they question the major progressive trends sweeping across the western world. Is transforming the western World into multicultural states a good thing in the long run? What about promoting a break down of the family and rampant individualism? Or gender fluidity and sexual hedonism? Questions are numerous and defy any simple causal reasoning. But Lakoff naturally avoids engaging with these hard questions as they simply might spoil his neat little theory of conservative simpletons.
    Even more messy becomes his psychologically reductionist theory when you compare right/left wing politics with the rest of the western world. There is no simple correlation between “right wing populism” and size of government for example. In most European countries the christian right is a very small faction. And topics like abortion and gun rights are quite marginal. His theory simply loses explanatory power when used outside the US political context. Which further reinforces my suspicion that Lakoff is in fact engaging more with ideology and partisan politics than science.
    Lakoffs theory is a sad example of ideology masquarading as science.

  • Dr. Red

    You presume, you do not assume!

    • Jannik Thorsen

      It matters little splitting hairs. Critical theory is fraudulent, thats the take away message.

      • Crenando

        “Critical theory is fraudulent” LOL the irony of someone whining about an ideology focused on dismantling ideology.

        • Jannik Thorsen

          It is only ironic if you accept critical theory at face value, as an attempt at dismantling ideology. But this wasnt the critical theorists concern. Rather it was an attempt at subverting western culture and its reigning ideologies, replacing it with another ideology, an updated version of marxism.

  • Wile E. Coli

    Thanks for being a clear example of my point. Well done.

  • Peter Kahlke Olesen

    Well, that certainly refutes everything I said.

  • WFA67

    Focus group guru Clotaire Rapaille has said something along the lines of this: “In any kind of persuasion if you don’t appeal to the reptilian brain (i.e. fighting, feeding, and the other “f”), then… you lose. The Donald has that one down.

  • antiutopia

    Doesn’t really get Evangelicalism at all — doesn’t comprehend its diversity. It’s better as a description of fundamentalists, while major Evangelical leaders have been increasingly coming out against Trump.

  • scott

    Yahoo 🙂 good Read

  • Ravi Pachaiyappan

    hahaha Ameicans have only two choices either or or that is it!! and if any one comes to the power the people are going to be screwd

  • While it may be impossible to offer a complete explanation in such a short article, this one meets my plausibility test. Worth reading. It also provides support for the idea of teaching systems thinking beginning in kindergarten. See “The Triple Focus” by Goleman and Senge for more on that.

  • Reed Schrichte

    Some interesting and thoughtful comments from a variety of perspectives. This article is a contemporary application of ideas Dr. Lakoff laid out more thoroughly in his book “Moral Politics”, which I found to be highly useful. Rather than attempt to dissect Dr. Lakoff’s approach from this thin slice, I’d recommend the whole enchilada.

  • Helmut_Schmidt69

    This would appear very much inconsistent with what we know about genetic origins of psychological behavior. The evidence is very clear. With the exception of people of Northwestern European descent, ALL people are measurably tribal in that they prefer those genetically similar to themselves versus outsiders. This makes sense, as the climate in that area was until recently hostile enough competition with other human groups was not an issue.

    All of that said, this is an economics discussion. The world is moving to a UN based fixed exchange rate reserve currency system similar to Keynes’ Bancor. One need only look at the prototype, the current basket of currencies that make up the IMF SDR. The IMF was created at the first UN conference specifically to manage this kind of system.

    Population growth is a factor in how exchange rates are fixed. The United States, and no country, can possibly be part of a UN based fixed exchange rate system with the massive illegal immigration that goes on in the United States. It has to stop.

    Will Trump build a wall? Will he arrange pograms against Mexicans? No. If we believe in evolutionary theory, we know that most people, probably 80%, do not have the intellectual ability to understand complex arguments. Hence, the art of rhetoric.

    Solving illegal immigration is very easy. Simply throw in prison the leadership of any company that employs them. They will deport themselves. And that is something Trump will likely do.

    Trump also has not called for a ban on Muslims. He has called for a ban on immigration from countries with current terrorist activity, which does happen to include many Muslim countries.

    This is not unreasonable, although I believe the reasons for this have more to do with Islam being fundamentally incompatible with a Globalist financial system. But whatever.

    The point is, this article is just too much standard fare regressive leftist nonsense.

    Trump is winning for one reason and one reason alone. The economy is in terrible shape, and the middle and lower classes have been decimated. Trump is the only candidate to explicitly state this.

    Overall, this article is why the regressive left has failed. You don’t understand economics. You hate white people. You offer no solutions. Only criticisms we have had rammed down our throats for a half century.

    I mean, look at this crazy comments of believers like yourself. Religion is fear? Isn’t this site about evolutionary psychology?

    Duh. If every people in the history of mankind engage in a particular practice, it is clearly biological in origin. The same poster probably thinks it’s perfectly normal for a woman to take anabolic steroids for the rest of her life to become a man. But believing in gods? Total craziness!

    No wonder you people are losers!

    • anotherneighborhoodactivist

      Is that you Donald?

  • ari9999

    While I’m a fan of Lakoff (“Don’t Think of an Elephant”) — and his moral-framing theory of why people think, feel and behave in certain ways — I’m not sure this piece reflects his best thinking.

    He seems to interpret some things Trump says in terms that are not rigorously supported by theory. It’s almost as if he feels compelled to explain every last Trumpian contradiction. Unfortunately, I think it weakens his case.

  • RAP77

    “This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame…”

    It’s working for Trump. You mean going on the attack only works for orange-faced buffoons?

  • John Galt

    Good, did you do one on Hillary? Can we discuss a little Ivy Lee, Bernays, Trotter, Le Bon, Napoleon, Freud, or Machiavelli now or are we just giving out samples?


    I’ve been saying that we’d reach this point for OVER A YEAR.

    I know EXACTLY WHY he’s winning.

    I knew he’d WIPE THE FLOOR with the other 16 candidates from the GOP.

    I knew they wouldn’t support him.

    I knew the people giving him his power WOULD FORCE THEM TOO.

    I knew the chaos he represented.

    Michael Douglas in Wall Street 2:

    “A fisherman always recognizes another fisherman from afar”.

    Donald Trump is a megalomaniac TROLL and the media feeds on him whether he wins or looses.

    Attention = Money.

    #1 An amendment that LIMITS presidential candidates to Governors who have served one term would eliminate this entire situation.

    No more 2 YEAR SENATORS.

    No more UNTESTED Secretary’s of WHATEVER.

    No more Community organizers.

    No more shady businessmen.

    #2 I knew Trump was going to end up right where he is when I saw how he got past the Megan Kelly menstruation/bloody comments.

    #3 What many of you either don’t understand or choose to ignore is that Trump represents CHAOS in the system and the people HATE THIS SYSTEM SO MUCH they WANT TO BURN IT DOWN.

    Trump is the Joker from The Dark Knight.

    A sociopath with enough money to speak louder than everyone else – and the power to be seen as sincere.

    Trump is an INDICTMENT of America.

    Every single thing about him – and every single thing he says.

    You think he’s gonna go away if he looses?

    Did SARAH PALIN go away?

  • Aaron Karmin

    dissonance: lack of agreement; especially :  inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs

    Studies have found there are four different tactics for getting rid of dissonance.
    First, deny it. Just pretend like it didn’t happen. Ignore it. It is not there, never was, and never will be.
    Second, swamp the dissonance. Sure this time things didn’t work out like we expected, but remember all those other times when it did? The goal here is to overload all that bad dissonance with a ton of good memories and thoughts.
    Third, change your expectancy. Some people would call this a form of rationalizing.. Here you are trying to alter in some real way something that really did happen.
    Fourth, you evaluate the event and Instead of responding with dissonant thoughts (“I can’t believe this”) you actually change your evaluation and find the best possible outcome.

    Antigone of Sophocles: “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only sin is pride.”

  • Luke Yi

    Except now he doesn’t like any of those things at all! Kazowie!!

  • digital82711
  • fredclaymeyer

    This article has aged horribly. High-handed, pseudoscientific, clinically insulting–a symptom of the listening problem that liberals are only now realizing we have.

    “All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.” So conservatives’ stupidity is a matter of scientific fact. Good to know.

    “There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy… In other words, they are what liberals would call ‘bigots.'” Also good to have that blanket insult nailed down with science. And helpful to know its prevalence in the population too–at least to, uh, a power of ten.

    Why did liberals (like myself) vote for Hillary? Because of the uniquely twisty folds in a liberal’s brain? Or because she confirms our basic assumptions and worldview?

    How would we vote if we lived in a West Virginia coal town that Hillary had vowed to shut down? Or if we sincerely believed that only a conservative Supreme Court appointment could end the government-sanctioned mass murder of abortion?

    If you have to pump out this much pop psychology to explain a nationwide political result you don’t understand, I’d suggest you’re missing something quite a bit more more straightforward–and probably more upsetting to your own perspective.

  • Marc Batko

    “Be angry at bankers, be angrier at economists”
    by Ann Pettifor, June 2012,