How We Process What We Believe
Have you noticed that liberals generally check to see if the latest news story about Republicans is actually satire, while conservatives tend not to check if the latest satire about Obama and Democrats is really news?
Conservatives have been become so extreme, so breathtakingly bizarre in their actions, so ludicrously hypocritical in their statements, that it is hard to even do satire about them anymore. If you try, someone will quickly link to a news story where they actually did that thing. And they are so desperate to believe that Obama and liberals are corrupt and evil, so trusting of extremist political sources, that they will generally believe even the most laughably impossible claims about the left.
Really, do you think more than a few nutty liberals would believe that Mitt Romney introduced death panels in his healthcare program in Massachusetts? That if the government shut down under Bush, that he would have had helicopters cover Mount Rushmore with a giant sheet? That a Republican president would actually have the FCC classify MSNBC as “satire” rather than a “news” source?
47% of Republicans believe that Obamacare “death panels” are true. 49% of Republicans believe that ACORN stole the 2012 election for Obama, despite the fact that ACORN shut down in 2010. Various polls show Republicans ranging between 25 and 65% believing Obama was not born in the U.S. 29% of Louisiana Republicans said Obama was responsible for the Katrina response. More than 85% of Alabama and Mississippi Republicans believe that Obama could be a Muslim—but the good news is that only 55 to 65% think that he is a Muslim.
A lot of this comes down to critical thinking skills, and how willing you are to be honest about your own political bias. This is not to say that all liberals are smart or honest and all conservatives are dumb or obstinate—but the tendencies definitely seem to break that way.
I had a conservative coworker once who, when asked, said that he honestly believed that the programming on the Fox News channel was not politically slanted. The question was not whether he believed what they were saying, but rather whether there was any political bias. He very honestly and steadfastly professed his belief that they presented information accurately.
Now, I like watching shows like Rachel Maddow, and consume media much like that, in addition to more mainstream media outlets (I tend to use the Google News aggregator over any one source). But if you asked me if programs like Maddow or sites like The Huffington Post have a political bias, of course I will recognize that. If I am reading the New York Times or watching CNN, and I see a story praising an Obama program, explaining how Democrats in Congress are responsible, or otherwise stating something not fully objective, I will recognize it as opinion and not “news.” Even if I see something which is apparently factual and objective, I will not assume that I am receiving all the facts about it. When I hear a conservative make a claim I disagree with, I will do a search for the facts instead of simply dismissing or contradicting the statement, just in case I am wrong about my assumption, which happens more often than I like.
That is my impression, at least, of how liberal culture tends to process information; we tend to be skeptics, we tend to respect critical thinking and objectivity. We like scientific methods, we are more willing to test our beliefs. Hardly all of us, but it is the tendency, the subcultural trend. It is hard to see how half of all Republicans could believe ACORN stole even a single vote in 2012 if this were the tendency on the conservative side. Their thought processes seem to be much more based in faith, which is considered a highly-respected attribute—and which transfers from their spiritual reflections into their political considerations.
Unfortunately, faith in anything political—especially when it reinforces your biases, left or right—is tantamount to utter gullibility.