The Great Thought Experiment

I posted a question on my Facebook page:  “Right leaning friends only: were the pictures of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd fake, or altered, to look bad in comparison to Obama’s? How do you know?

A very simple, very narrow question.  The point of asking it was to see if my rightwing friends could answer a simple question simply.  The lessons appear below the image.


  1.  My left/liberal friends can’t read directions.  I know it’s not standard practice to try to shape the crowd that responds to a Facebook post, but the first people responding were lefties.  Even after I requested lefties hold off, I got more, and more.  Some offered neutral factual content.  Solid stuff, but not asked for.  Others mocked the Trump camp’s position (see below).  One accused me of aiding and abetting the enemy by asking a simple question and allowing their answers to go unchallenged.  None of my Left leaning friends who replied understood or respected the request:  “Right Leaning Friends only:  ”

    I don’t know exactly what implications to draw, except perhaps that our willingness to dive in and defend might come so early as to steel the opposition against us even more?   I am uncertain on that conclusion.


  2. Three of my “right-leaning friends” fell into the rough position of “The pictures aren’t faked, but I think there have been some angle changes, or time shifting to make it look worse.”  These, at a technical/photographic level, are simply conspiracy thoughts about the factual nature of the pictures posted.  The comparison photos, they felt, were intentionally time-shifted.  According to these people, the pictures above (minus the Klan inset) were intentionally put side by side in a deceitful way.  Why? How do you know?

    This has been fully debunked.  Multiple news outlets confirm (as you see in the caption of the first picture above) that the shots are of 12:01 for Trump’s inauguration and 12:07-12:26 for the 2009 Obama.

    Given how simple it is to find correct information across multiple sources, why (beyond laziness and confirmation bias) would anyone entertain this theory at all?

  3.  A number of people spoke of how the juxtaposition was used to advance an agenda.  What is important (to me) is that this is an answer to an unasked question.  It amuses and frustrates me no end how frequently my right-wing friends will refuse to answer the question asked.
  4.  A few answers impugned my motives.  “So why is your poll anything but an attempt to ‘prove’ right wing isn’t reality?” one asked, after not answering the question and advancing a “parallel” hypothetical scenario that would prove my motivation to attack the right would not be used to attack the left in a similar situation.

    The attack is in the mind of the respondent. I asked a question, seeking a narrow answer:  Do you think the photos have been faked to make Trump look bad.”

    Note: I do not claim that I am immune to this bug, or innocent of having done the same thing.  But this tendency is destructive to arriving at sane conclusions and agreement.

  5. 1.2 people responded reasonably well, essentially saying, “No, the photos weren’t faked, but why is it an issue?”  I can only give .2 to one of the responses because that valid sentiment was surrounded by a variety of the other sentiments above.

    The one respondent who was reasonable, not conspiratorial, not impugning and not evading said (paraphrase), “Yes. I totally believe there were fewer people at Trump’s inauguration. But what would you expect, comparing the first inauguration of the first black President in history, with the 44th out of 45 old white guys?”

    Good answer.

This was a simple thought experiment:  Will right-leaning types answer a simple question? Without being distracted by side issues, media buzz, personal issues with liberals, etc.  The results concern the idealist in me.  That ass wants to believe we can be saved from Trump burying us in lies.  But the responses (a statistically small, self-selected group) indicate that the facts will come second to being defensive about liberal intent or assumed conspiracies.

We need more than 1.2 semi-good answers on simple questions of fact.  I am not trying to extend my observations beyond this simple question.  We need people to want to address information for its fact content, BEFORE using it as a political shield or cudgel.

I would have given extra credit if anyone had said, “Yeah… Trump forcing his press secretary to hold a press conference spouting verifiable lies was an asinine thing to do as a President.”

The fact that I didn’t get that answer concerns me a lot.  Without more people on “the right” being able and willing to respond rationally, factually — to stand up — to the specific tactics and claims made by Trump, we are going down.  He will steamroll complicity.  He will leverage credulity.  He will silence dissent.

For you righties who have read this far, today Trump imposed bans on the USDA and EPA communicating with the public.  Concerned yet?  The information management and doublespeak is a threat worth considering as NOT a liberal plot.


One thought on “The Great Thought Experiment

  1. Just to be clear – as one of your left-leaning friends: I can *READ* instructions, I just often decline to follow them. As to the underlying thought experiment, one of your right-leaning friends hit the nail on the head by using the word “legitimacy.” Nobody with half a brain would ever assert that the legitimacy of a presidency is determined by, measured by, or in any way affected by the headcount at the inaugural ceremony. The observation by all facets of the media (right, left, and center) that the turnout for the Trump inauguration was smaller than Obama’s turnout (or Reagan’s for that matter) has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the presidency – for some it’s merely an observation of fact, for others (perhaps for me) it’s an exercise in schadenfreude: “Hey Trump – you aren’t half as popular as you think you are.” What’s troublesome is that the president himself seems to think that it matters for some reason. He seems compelled to take objective factual reporting about crowd sizes and turn it into some kind of personal slight. Similarly, his perpetuation of the rank falsehood that his loss of the popular vote was merely the product of undocumented aliens casting illegal votes seems to stem from some deep-seated anxiety by *him* about *his own* legitimacy. How does somebody so confused and insecure become leader of the free world?

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