3 years ago
Dr. Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, host of the podcast "The Michael Shermer Show," and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is "Conspiracy: Why the Rational Believe the Irrational." https://michaelshermer.com/
Yeah, that's all very promising. It's really interesting too because it has become such a hot political topic. There's so many people that are angry at Trump, but they were angry at Trump back when he was closing the travel from China, which turned out to be a great idea. And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted today a compilation of CNN and all these other different networks giving out bad information way back in January. Bad information saying, this is going to be fine, don't worry. It's not as deadly as the flu, you should worry about the flu, don't change your plans, don't do anything. So a lot of people got this wrong. But so many people are trying to make this a political point right now. And it's really, it's so useless. Pointing fingers and everything at this point in time. Like what they need to concentrate on now is just getting masks, getting PPE equipment, keeping people healthy if they can, and then educating people on how to keep your immune system strong. And let's try to get people to understand the consequences of not taking care of your body. This has to be the worst job in the world, president. No matter what you do, everyone's going to, half the people are going to hate you. Who would want that job? I don't know, because it doesn't even pay that well compared to other professions, at the top end of other professions. There's a lot of articles now about how autocrats around the world have been taking advantage of the pandemic to increase their power and to squelch civil liberties in Hungary and Turkey, even Israel, China, of course, Putin and Russia, and so on. And Trump usually gets lumped in there. He's an autocrat like Oban and Erdogan and Netanyahu and so forth. So had he closed, let's say, do the counterfactual, let's say he closed the borders in late January or early February or something like this, just clamp down on all travel and so on, he would have been totally accused of being an autocrat. He wants to be a dictator and look what he's doing. So he doesn't do that, and then he's accused of not doing enough when it looks like we should have done more. And then the other day when he said, well, I'm not going to tell all the governors what to do. I'm going to honor states' rights for now. And of course, he gets hammered for that. But that's actually what he's supposed to do. That's not what an autocrat would do. An autocrat would say, yeah, I'm telling everybody what to do. Right, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. I think maybe we should drop all the polarization politically, rally around the president, even if you hate him. Just look what happened after 9-11. Bush was pretty hated by the left. And most liberals came around and said, all right, you know what? We're going to support this guy at least for a few months until we figure out what's going on here. And most of the liberal Democratic congressmen and senators voted for the war for the invasion of Afghanistan and including Iraq, including Hillary. So maybe we ought to do that. I know people just can't stand Trump. And just the idea like saying something nice or supportive or not being critical seems hard to do. But maybe this is way worse than 9-11. Yeah, and what you're saying is totally correct. It seems like the polarization is even worse, though, than when it was in 2001. It seems like it just keeps ramping up. And Trump is such a naturally polarizing figure that it's gotten, you know, the left versus right has gotten so extreme right now. It's almost impossible for rational discourse. And this is one of the reasons why it's a good time now to talk about your book, given the devil is due. I was just showing this graph of the people that self-identify as centrist versus now, which is more polarized. You have this two-hump camel here, and that's from 1994, 2004, and then close to today. When did that shift? Is that a Trump shift? That little dip in the middle? No, no, no, no, no. Well, really under Obama, about 2008, the polarization got worse and worse. I mean, we can speculate why, but that's pretty much when it happened. Around 2004, 2005, and then it gets ramped up. So just pollsters asking people, you know, how do you self-identify? You know, centrist, far left, far right, you know, strong Republican, strong Democrat, whatever. And so that middle ground has been shrinking. The centers have been shrinking, and the polls have been increasing. So more and more people are polarized. Now, conservative talk radio and television or, you know, MSNBC, you know, whatever, you want to accuse the media. But in general, I think we've just been more polarized in the sense of not just saying, well, I disagree with you. I think you're wrong, but that you're evil. You're immoral. You know, this is, you know, the worst thing that's ever happened to us and so on, this kind of ramping up of the catastrophicism, you know, is not healthy.