An Election of Blame

Oftentimes, when we’re going through a difficult time (like a break up, a business failure, downsizing, etc), we try to figure out who is responsible for what so we can cut up the “blame pie,” hoping that the other guy’s slice is bigger than yours.

“You’re responsible for 51% of this problem, therefore the results are 100% your fault.”

I’m seeing a lot of this today in the wake of Donald Trump being elected to office. My Facebook feed is full of people blaming 3rd party voters, this demographic, that demographic, etc for stealing votes from Hillary in an attempt to cut a bigger slice of blame pie for the other guys.

But that’s only going to continue the division & conflict.

Personal Context

It can be difficult to see how this plays out when we’re focused on a national scale. Let’s look at a 1-on-1 scale to explain this.

Think about a disagreement between two people. Is one person 51% responsible for a problem, and the other is 49% responsible, so the first is now the winner in the election of blame?

No. They’re both 100% responsible.

Until each person takes full responsibility for their choices, there can be no way forward.

Instead of blaming one group for the the choices of another, look to see where each person is 100% responsible for the part they played, and move on from there.

Take ownership for your 100% and move on.

One Event, Two Outcomes

In high school & college I was a competitive debater. I wasn’t naturally well-spoken and quick on my feet. I think almost entirely in pictures, so it was difficult for me to translate those images into coherent ideas that are easy to understand in words.

With that background, I absolutely love watching live debates; especially debates that matter.

Recently the two main party nominees squared off for the first presidential debate of the 2016 circus election cycle. At the end of the debate, there was a clear winner.

Who was it?

Turns out, it was the person you believed would win it before it ever began.

Aftermath

Like most interesting quirks of the mind, how things play out after an event are often more interesting than the event, itself. Nowhere is this easier to see than the fallout from the debate.

If you’ve talked with more than 10 people about the debate, you should have seen first hand how two people can go through the same experience, and come out with completely different beliefs about what happened.

As soon as the nominees wrapped up, you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hillary won the debate. The guy sitting next to you at the bar felt exactly the same way. . . about Trump.

And it’s interesting to note; he has the exact same level of certainty about Trump’s “undeniable” win, as you do Hillary.

How in the world can that be?

A little hiccup in reasoning called “belief bias.”

Belief Bias

Belief bias is what happens when someone’s beliefs, personal values, prior knowledge/experience colors the reasoning process to be more accepting of invalid arguments or information.

Those beliefs act as a preventative filter for any kind of information that would disrupt the world view that’s working just fine, thank you. Why would I do anything different?

A completely rational person would be able to take in all points made, evaluate claims, and come to a conclusion based solely on that data.

But we’re not completely rational people. Our fuzzy logic & slippery pre-conscious brain processes get in the way.

We interpret experiences so they support what we believe already.

Show me one person who changed their mind after the debates. . .

Can’t do it?

You have the belief bias to thank!

(and be scared of.)