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November 30, 2004

Behold the power of delusion

The site I've been spending the most time on lately is Democratic Underground. Of course, I'm not permitted to post there, but registration isn't required simply to lurk, and I've been quite the lurker. At first I just came for some simple schadenfreude, to enjoy a little well-earned gloating, but now I simply can't look away. It's a fascinating glimpse into the minds of the delusional. A doctoral candidate in psychiatry could probably get a hell of a thesis out of it.

Not being a psychiatrist myself, I don't know if there's a formal name for the syndrome the DUers suffer, but it's most interesting. They hold an unshakeable belief, a belief not only that they are right, but that the rightness of their ideas is self-evident. They simply can't countenance the possibility that anyone would support Bush over Kerry, let alone a majority. This belief is so ironclad that evidence to the contrary must be explained away... no matter how preposterous the explanation, nothing is less probable than the chance that they are simply wrong.

How to explain Kerry's electoral defeat? The snap judgment was that the majority which supported Bush was stupid, misled, or both. That reconciles the outcome with the conviction, but it leads to an uncomfortable state of mind. People don't want to live in a country of fools and dupes. Furthermore, the tiny voice of rationality intrudes. Intelligent, clear-eyed Bush supporters exist, and they damn well know it.

So the story changed: the election must have been stolen. The majority did support Kerry, and did agree with their worldview, but Bush's evil cabal, led by the execrable Karl Rove, rigged the ballots. It's not enough to believe that Kerry's 160k margin of defeat in Ohio was the result of fraud, his 3.5 million margin of defeat nationwide was also stolen. Think of it: these people believe that Bush managed to steal over three million votes without leaving piles and piles of evidence. (This is difficult to reconcile with their belief that Bush is a low-grade moron, so of course the sinister plot is led by Rove and Cheney, the puppet-masters.)

But what of John Kerry, whom they had elevated to the level of a demigod? He's been silent about the fraud. How to explain that? On DU, no fewer than three theories have been proposed: he's biding his time and plotting, he's in league with the Bushes and was simply a prop, and he or his family have been threatened. All three have found their share of adherents. At first, the "biding his time" theory was most popular, but as the days tick by it's becoming less credible and the faithful are losing hope and drifting to the other two theories. It's fascinating to watch them turn on their man. The few faithful who remain have become ever more shrill as more and more of them break out the knives. The one theory which has not been widely proposed to explain Kerry's silence, of course, is that he really lost, he really knows it, and he's coping. That would shatter the myth.

A few DUers have suggested this, of course... not all of them are entirely insane. These poor voices of reason have been shouted down as "defeatists".

And now, the latest: Michael Moore. Appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Moore wore a suit and a clean-shaven chin, and spoke of Kerry's defeat. Not a fraudulent election, not a massive Republican conspiracy, but an electoral defeat. Moore tried to explain Kerry's loss... while everybody knows that he really won! The DUers are outraged. Some believe, as they did with Kerry, that Moore is plotting something, that his apparent joinder with the "defeatists" is all a scheme, a scam to get the Republicans off-guard. Some believe he must have been threatened. But most of them seem to think he's sold out. He's in the pocket of the Republicans. Think of it: Michael Moore in the pocket of the Republicans.

It's an awesome demonstration of the power of delusion. No theory, no matter how outlandish, will be rejected as long as it permits them to cling to their belief that their ideas are correct. It's fascinating to watch, and I encourage everyone to spend a few hours enjoying the spectacle.

November 30, 2004 in Election '04 | Permalink

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Comments

I have the same fascination with them. I go over there once or twice a week, and just pick a thread at random. By my own estimates, around two-thirds of the posts are so delusional that I fear for these folks' ability to find their way home each day.

I noticed another factor that ties in. The day after the election (or maybe two days after, I'm not sure), there was a thread where someone boldly declared that he was just not going to put up with what was going on in Ohio. He was going to march in there, by golly! (And do what was unclear.)

Then he issued his rallying cry: "Who's with me!?!" That's when I noticed the pattern.

Somewhere around half the people that responded said something like "Yeah, we need to do something all right! But I don't have a car, and don't have any money, so I'll be with you in spirit."

I saw so many variations of this, I realized viscerally something I rather suspected intellectually - those guys are losers, pure and simple.

But DU attracts a special species of loser. In their minds, it's always someone else's fault that they are losers. In fact, everything bad that happens is someone else's fault. It's never happenstance, or their own fault, or anything else - it's always a giant conspiracy to keep down the losers.

That's why they can't resist the conspiracy theories about the election, no matter how much evidence is thrown against them. Something bad happened - ergo it must be the fault of some wicked conspiracy somewhere.

Posted by: Joe Bonforte | Dec 1, 2004 5:49:21 PM

The really sad thing is that the denial prevents them from asking themselves the tough questions that need to be asked. The few sane posters are asking them, only to get shouted down by the nutballs with their fingers in their ears.

Why did Bush do so much better among women voters? Why did he do so much better among black voters? Why did he do so much better among Jews? Why did he get nearly half of Hispanics? The answer in every case: HE DIDN'T, IT WAS STOLEN!!! And these people are the base.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Dec 2, 2004 9:24:29 PM

Great analysis of what's going over there. One of them even said Kerry won in a landslide, and there is no recount necessary, because they have the proof.

But they do not go on to say what the proof is. And to my knowledge, none of the other DUmmies questions it, either, they just jump on board! Absolutely absurd.

Posted by: PatriotGirl827 | Dec 4, 2004 5:16:44 AM

"Reality based" my sweaty behind.

Posted by: Sharpshooter | Dec 4, 2004 1:33:07 PM

I am also facinated with them most i think are high school kids they have a long way to go in life. Un fortunatly they that site has zero tollarance for other opinions I have been banned twice doubt because of my bad spelling.

Posted by: pel | Dec 12, 2004 7:55:29 AM

you guys sure seem to spend a lot of time over there.

and you're right, WE are delusional.

by the way -- there is molestation of minors in my track record. thanks for the opportunity to come clean.

we put the "lude" in deluded.

Posted by: Midori | Dec 12, 2004 8:17:14 AM

Delusional? Who is ignoring the Iraq war and how badly it is going? Who is ignoring the massive deficeit? Who is ignoring the attempt at privatizing Social Security, while FINALLY admitting having to BORROW- how many trillions of dollars? Who actually listens to Bush and has caught him in lie after lie after lie? (Cheney to) Some of the latest on the Debates. Which President in U.S. recent history has had the least amount of press conferences? Who lied about the reasons on going to war in Iraq? Who hasn't captured Osama Bin Ladin? Who doesn't know where Osamma is and really isn't concerned? Osamma, the man responsible for 3000 American Deaths. Please, who is delusional? Why are we building 14 militry bases in Iraq and have been busy doing that since the onset of the war? Why do we need 14 military bases to FREE the IRAQI PEOPLE?
Delusional???? Look in the mirror. People that supported a President with the worst record in modern day history, now those people are delusional. The FACTS of Bush's record speak for themself.

Posted by: Elizabeth Lessner | Dec 12, 2004 8:50:41 AM

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x1426087

Posted by: joe | Dec 12, 2004 9:06:32 AM

Ha-Ha! Great blog!

Thanks delusional DUmb-asses for posting this at DUmb-ass central.

Posted by: Kevin P. | Dec 12, 2004 9:18:03 AM

yes, it's posted on DU.

Why would DU not be interested in what so called "voices of reason" are saying about them?

or, do you prefer to do your mud slinging under cover of darkness? say, isn't that another bush trait?

you guys don't seem very reasonable. or intelligent.

just stupid.

Posted by: Midori | Dec 12, 2004 10:25:36 AM

If it's so delusional then why do you spend so much of your time there...?

Why do you feel the need to sneak around a website that is basically for democrats discussing democrat issues...?

And why is it that you only mention posts that you think are absurd...there are plenty of other posts there that make perfect sense and are exactly on point.

Why don't you head on over to FreeRepublic if you want to talk about delusion...

Posted by: imax | Dec 12, 2004 5:14:01 PM

If you liberal idiots (pardon the redundancy) at DUmmyworld will quit saying stupid things, then we'll quit pointing and laughing at you.

You libs claim to be the "intelligensia", so how hard can it be for you to shut up and just appear stupid rather than opening your mouths and removing all doubt?

Posted by: USA4ME | Dec 12, 2004 6:19:34 PM

Great reply on the thread, VoR.

I am wondering how long before the DUmb-ass mods will let it stand.

Posted by: Kevin P. | Dec 12, 2004 6:48:25 PM

Well, I received banning #4 within literally two minutes of having registered. I'll say this for DU, the mods are really on the ball.

But they seem to be honoring my request to let the reply stand, which I respect.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Dec 13, 2004 3:29:40 AM

Whoops, guess I spoke too soon.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Dec 13, 2004 6:14:01 AM

They, DUmb-ass "leaders", cannot let the collective of borg hear the truth, VoR! LMFAO!

Posted by: Kevin P. | Dec 13, 2004 6:20:53 AM

No, no, I really don't hold it against them. As I said in my post before they deleted it, it's their board, their rules. The moderators don't pretend to be hosting a place for free and open debate, they're up-front about the fact that theirs is a site for circle-jerking, and that's their right. Even though I only posted at the invitation of one of their members.

Occasionally, a member will claim that DU is a place of free speech, but that's only symptomatic of their delusion. DU is not a free speech zone, and that's fine.

The owner of a forum such as a message board, or, say, a blog, has dictatorial authority over it. He can delete posts or comments to posts, or even edit them so that they seem to say the opposite of what they originally said. He could, in fact, edit a blog comment so what was originally a juvenile insult directed at the readers of the blog became a juvenile insult directed at the commenter herself. That last would be cruel and capricious, unless it were done to make an ironic point.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Dec 13, 2004 7:38:38 AM

I know what you are saying. It just goes to prove that the DUmb-asses are delusional, if they think DUmb-assland is for debate.

Circle-jerk fits DUmb-asses quite well. Or daisy chain...

Posted by: Kevin P. | Dec 13, 2004 9:06:27 AM

Speaking of "reason," I bet no one else on this blog has an M.A. in Libertarian Studies or an M.A. in critical theory. I'd like to take the opportunity to say that the MOST delusional people out there are GOP devotees that:

1. Don't realize that they're being led by a right-wing, elitist "intelligensia," who believe that the best way to control their dull constituency is to lie to them.

and

2. Anyone who thinks that the GOP is any less of a system of big-government statism than the Democratic Party or the left.

Both of those things take the cake for delusion, and all else pales in comparison.

Posted by: Reason | Dec 13, 2004 4:16:09 PM

You'd be amazed how little I'm impressed by academic credentials of any kind. But out of curiosity, where did you get your degrees? Google searches for "master of arts in libertarian studies", "m.a. in libertarian studies", "libertarian studies major", and "master of libertarian studies" all come up blank. I'm interested to know what graduate school offers such a program.

I came by my support for George W. Bush over John Kerry honestly. I wasn't led into it by any "intelligentsia", the vast majority of whom are liberals anyway and who like nothing more than to brag about their meaningless sheepskins. And as I said on DU before the post was deleted, as long as Democrats persist in believing that their opponents are either evil or stupid, they will persist in losing.

That being said, I'm well aware that both major parties favor big-government statism. We're long past the Tytler point, where the majority has discovered it can vote itself largesse from the public treasury. (The quote may be apocryphal, but the sentiment is accurate enough.) As a result, I am not optimistic for the long-term prospects of this country, no matter which of the major parties is in power.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Dec 13, 2004 8:29:03 PM

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