Links and Comments: Republican denial of coronavirus; Trump’s narcissism; Cults and cognitive dissonance

Washington Post: The GOP’s coronavirus denialism finally catches up with its leaders, by traditionally conservative writer Max Boot.

He responds to a tweet, by a Republican.

“Does anyone else find it odd,” she wrote Friday, “that no prominent Democrats have had the virus but the list of Republicans goes on and on?”

You would consider that odd only if you also consider it odd that people who wear seat belts are more likely to survive car accidents or that those who jump out of airplanes with parachutes are more likely to reach the ground intact than those who don’t.

His take:

How could this possibly be? Perhaps — I’m spitballing here — it is related to the Republican Party’s rejection of science, its embrace of conspiracy theories and its transformation into a cult of personality? Having long been in denial about climate change, the Republican Party this year has also been in denial about the novel coronavirus.

And points out that

Researchers have shown that those who rely on right-wing sources such as Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh are much more likely to hold mistaken beliefs about the coronavirus than those who look to the mainstream media for information.


Slate, Fred Kaplan: Trump’s Narcissism Is As Healthy As Ever. Subtitle: The president is incapable of understanding anything that didn’t happen directly to him.

The message is in the subtitle. This echoes my earlier comment that some people have a hard time believing anything that they cannot personally touch or see. Thus flat-earthers.


Psychology Today: Cults and Cognition: Programming the True Believer. Subtitle: How do cognitive processes contribute to bizarre—and lethal—cult beliefs?

Jim Jones, the Branch Davidians, the Comet Hale-Bopp UFO.

The obvious question: How does cult psychology work? How is it possible to persuade human adults to enter a weird cognitive landscape with no basis in reality? To enter a fantasy realm so profound that they’ll willingly die for whomever has been selected as the local Messiah?

A complete answer to this crucial question is beyond our scope or available space, so in this and the next two Forensic Views, we’re going to focus on three specific cognitive cult dynamics: dissociation, group psychology, and cognitive dissonance.

This particular column, first of three, focuses on cognitive dissonance.

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