Donald Trump and the Three Types of Stupid Mistake

We all make dumb mistakes sometimes. A Scientific American piece entitled “The Psychology of the Breathtakingly Stupid Mistake” makes interesting reading in light of Donald Trump’s recent success.

According to researchers, “there are three distinct types of action that bring palm to face”:

The first is when a person’s confidence outstrips their skill… [e.g.], when Wild Wing of the Anaheim Ducks caught himself on fire attempting to leap over a burning wall (cheerleaders pulled him from the flames and he returned to action later in the game, unhurt). …

The confidence-skill disconnect has been dubbed the Dunning-Kruger effect, after a study by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. … Dunning noted, “Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.”

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This has relevance for those who know very little about politics or even about the background and likely future behavior of the candidate they nonetheless feel qualified to impose on the rest of us. In extreme cases, this results in his supporters asserting that Trump is a conservative. The Donald surprised no one by gloating, “I love the poorly educated” after winning the Nevada caucuses.

As any number of political scandals illustrate, the second type of stupid mistake involves impulsive acts—when our behavior seems out of control. In the scandal that became known as Weinergate, former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner sent lewd texts and pictures of himself to women he met on Facebook.

A sure sign that someone is acting stupidly because he has lost control is when he attempts to justify his stupid behavior by shouting that he is angry — a nearly ubiquitous phenomenon among Trump supporters.

The final variety of stupid mistake involves lapses of attention—Homer Simpsonesque D’oh moments. As arguably the best example from American sports history, in the 1929 Rose Bowl, University of California star Roy Riegels recovered a fumble and returned it 65 yards the wrong way.

No well-meaning Republican voter who is paying attention would throw the election to a person with severe and glaringly obvious character flaws, who openly endorses torturing people (really torturing, not waterboarding) and advocates killing the relatives of people suspected of terrorism, and who personifies everything his supporters claim they are rebelling against.

Thanks to scientific research, we now understand why supporting Trump (even though the conservative in the race would be more electable) is three times dumber than the average dumb mistake; it sometimes constitutes making all three types of dumb mistake at once.

Loves the poorly educated, the impulsive, and the inattentive.

On tips from Torcer and Varla. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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