Negativity Bias, Interpersonal Circumplexes, and Other Political Psychobabble

Mick Zano

Today we cover more of the psychological dysfunction behind modern day republicanism. Granted, today’s liberals aren’t particularly healthy, but the bigger story remains the GOP’s mega cognitive dissonance (MCD). It’s so thick you can cut it with a knife, but I wouldn’t try that! Remember those stand-your-ground laws? The Discord’s chief psychologist, Dr. Kwela Juluka, will be weighing in so to borrow a line from Fareed, let’s get smarted.

Yes…I keep covering The GOP’s nosedive into a delusional personality disorder, because it’s a big deal. This is a condition with a very poor prognosis, both for those afflicted and their nursing home roommates. I have always felt President Clinton’s impeachment marked the moment when this extremist movement first reared its ugly talking head—a moment in time when one party turned on that fateful Batshit signal, a beacon of wrongness that has shone brightly ever since. The Issa’s of that time, not only doggedly pursued the Lewinsky scandal, but they even tried to implicate the Clintons in the death of Vince Foster. Remember that? Twenty years later and this is their norm. Coincidentally, this is also when Matt Drudge entered the scene:

“Since Matt Drudge launched his website (1997) thousands of news sites have appeared to challenge the official globalist dominated political orthodoxy, its censorship and omissions, and offer humanity a truly more balanced and less bias examination of the world.”, 7/14

Yes, Infowars, who would put their actual name next to that pile of shit? My assessment of Matt is a tad different:

“Matt Drudge birthed and fomented a sociopathic alternate political reality, the likes of which this country has never seen, and the benefits of which remain as elusive as its contribution to our political discourse.”

—Mick (not my real name) Zano

Chris Mooney over on Slate reviewed a recent John Hibbing et al (University of Nebraska) study on the link between negative bias and conservatism. Essentially this study suggests republicans can hone in on any negative tidbit and incorporate it into their worldview faster than the Flash after a case of Jolt Cola.

So where was this ‘advanced super fear’ (ASF) during the administration that brought us to the brink of ruin? ….you know, when it might have been helpful.

“The conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets—centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns—would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology.”

Chris Mooney on Hibbing et al.

So even though everything collapsed under W, conservative types felt safer with the actions of that administration, however wrong or ill-conceived, because it was more in tune with their faulty wiring (see: Netanyahu’s actions 2014 Gaza). Hibbing’s study suggests republicans have a heightened awareness for only certain types of bad news. They have the ability to immediately hone in on that one tidbit of any given report, poll, trend, policy that supports their ideology, or can easily be twisted into such.  Rightwing media coverage also panders to their fear-based mentality and their need to lash out at anything deemed foreign.

Fox News (FP4F)
Fox News (FP4F) Fear Porn 4 Scared Fucks
Fear Porn 4 Scared Fucks

These traits worked wonderfully in the Pleistocene Era when republicans could deport saber-tooth tigers from their tribal regions with impunity (panther-way to amnesty?).  Sorry.

Make no mistake, 2014 is chock full of concerning shit, but none of the real problems are even covered on Fox News. I also believe liberal bloggers are at least capable of discussing an entire concept. They report a number of facts, pro and con, on any given topic. Sure they highlight the parts that put their views and beliefs in a good light, we all do, but good liberal blogs tend to be data heavy. Take Andrew Sullivan, Jonathon Chait, Paul Waldman, Juan Cole, Kevin Drum, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and dozens more. The republicans have nothing like them, nothing…well, they had Sullivan (why he moved left, here).

“Paris Hilton has more depth after huffing paint thinner than today’s republicans.”

—Mick Zano (today)

Their ability to shift everything into their worldview (see: Coulterian Flip) is an important part of their confirmation bias, luckily you can reuse such distortions or they would have broken them all by now.  There is some good news, with the GOP’s recent mastery of confirmation bias, normalcy bias, media bias and now negativity bias, they’re well on their way to earning a 10th cognitive distortion free!

This is a hell of a time to check out of the dialogue—or, worse yet, invent a parallel one—when so much is riding on the choices our country now faces. These windows wherein we can effect real change are closing. Who am I kidding? We’ve missed more fucking windows than Stevie Wonder in Amsterdam’s red light district.

On that note, I asked Dr. Kwela to weigh in:

Timothy Leary, long recognized as an LSD guru, was previous to that honor known for his work in Interpersonal Psychology (IP).  In IP, a relationship does not exist within either of any of the parties involved, but rather exists as a separate entity, in essence hovering in the space, or interpersonal circumplex, between the dyad or within the group.  In other words, it takes two to Tango, and if you change partners, you may find yourself shifting instantaneously and unconsciously from the Tango into doing the Rhumba, possibly Break-dancing, participating in a threesome, or even mud wrestling.  The circumplex is mapped on bipolar axes:  A) power, control, status; and 2) warmth, friendliness, solidarity.  If two people find themselves at the junction of the axes, the dance is likely to move to the bedroom (metaphorically speaking); however, if the positions of the parties move significantly away from one another, and especially toward the opposing far corners of the graph paper, bullets may fly (literally).

My take on this, when applied to politics – and particularly conservative politics – is that the right wing has carved out its niche at (or better yet, painted itself into) a corner of the circumplex that we might generously describe as faux dominant truculence.  A dog trainer with such a disposition would have no work and no dog.  A cashier, no cash.  A poll dancer, no grasp.  Those on the right have ignored Kant’s suggestion that we should act as if the principle of our action should be made universal law.  They have scorned Schopenhauer’s observation that compassion is the basis of morality.  They have forgotten (or never learned) the important concepts from the Enlightenment, from which the motivation to write the Declaration of Independence blossomed.  Rather, they have adopted the most primitive linguistic structure imaginable built on a bizarre collection of frothy arcane blips issued by Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand, and the Taliban.

I must go belch now. 

Dr. Kwela juluka

I suffered from a bout of faux dominant truculence myself, but a gastroenterologist really helped. Actually, I think Sullivan refers to this as Chicken Hawk conservatism a phenomenon only deepening with the unchecked support of Israel’s actions in Gaza. And I immediately thought of the border crisis when you mentioned Schopenhauer’s compassion.  What are the deaths of children on our border if such deaths can be turned to political advantage? Republicans believe some Machiavellian return to power would be its own reward, but what are they basing this on? Certainly not recent history.

Oh, and I thought the term integral psychology was coined by Ken Wilber. Shows what I know. An overview of some other GOP thought distortions, here, and my diagnosing of the Grand Old Party here.

With so few successes, why is the Fox Nation still relevant?

Good question. There remains a strong, albeit misguided, tenacity on the right.  Republicans are united in their hatred for liberal causes, which gives them strength. However, their inability at course corrections is a huge detriment and is, at least in part, why I don’t think the GOP will win the senate in the midterms, even though the odds are currently greatly stacked in their favor. 

Cognitive dissonance used to be limited to their inability to accurately predict outcomes, but now there’s mounting dissonance within their own party.  How do they absorb all of this? The GOP’s candidates are all over the map, yet somehow they remain one Fox Nation. There’s a marked difference between establishment RINOs v. Tea Partiers on economic issues and a monster disparity between neocons v. isolationists on foreign policy, yet, even when republicans are more splintered than Pinocchio’s call-girl, they still manage to hold onto a stronger base than liberals.  See, you lazy hipsters! This is why we can’t have nice things! The only thing you Pabst drinking Portlandians can Occupy is, well, this said it best:

We are Discord!
We are Discord! We Occupy Space
We occupy space

The right’s successful use of cognitive distortions are clearly part of their ‘strategery’. I would back a Rand Paul over a neocon any day, but it’s a moot point; he won’t be their nominee. He doesn’t fit into either the wrong or wronger part of The GOP. He’s a bit of an anomaly.

“One part Rand, one part fiction, they’re a voting contradiction.”


If Paul somehow does win the nomination in 2016, the republicans will have made a seamless 180˚ transition from Hannibal to Neville Chamberlain, without missing a single victorious news cycle. It’s all part of my Zen Wrongness theory (post soon). But a Rand Paul nomination would signal a huge rebuke to the neocon wing of the party, but it would be a quiet coup, devoid of any recognition of past ills.  Fox is never having to say you’re Stossel. Sorry.

As I’ve mentioned before, you can run a story every day for a decade highlighting every person displeased with their Obamacare coverage, but it doesn’t change the fact twice as many people are happier with their coverage, here, and ten million more are covered, here, and it’s bringing down overall healthcare costs, here and here.  You know, the polar opposite of everything republican’s predicted. This can be broken down similarly for every issue. For instance, a judge just recently ruled that, outside of human error, there’s no widespread voter fraud in the U.S., here, but that won’t stop the GOP from covering each of our estimated .01 instances of voter fraud. It won’t change the final number, but it will dupe some dopes.

I will not deny Fox News is having a real impact on reality. Winning! The Sean Hannitys and the Matt Drudges of the world have successfully wrestled the microphones away from the Cronkites and—

[Megaphony joke omitted by the editor]

You can’t omit my last joke, Winslow!

Dear Mick Zano,

Yes, yes I can.

Pierce X. Winslow, CEO

P.S. And the word ‘joke’ is a bit of a stretch.

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Mick Zano

Mick Zano

Mick Zano is the Head Comedy Writer and co-founder of The Daily Discord. He is the Captain of team Search Truth Quest and is currently part of the Witness Protection Program. He is being strongly advised to stop talking any further about this, right now, and would like to add that he is in no way affiliated with the Gambinonali crime family.