Decision Error #1: Assuming that logic and reason are the most effective techniques for convincing almost anyone of anything

January 25th, 2015 by Peninsula Mediation

What happened to logic and reason in the presidential campaign of candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Election? We are told that we are living in a “post fact” world now. Democrats ruminate over ways they could have engaged in less character defense and a better portrayal of the “facts.”  Facts like that Obama’s policies put 22.309 million people to work from the depths of the recession in January 2010 to the end of his term. Or that in 2010 he instituted and sustained $858 billion in business tax cuts for economic stimulus programs. The public seemed not to much care about what constituted a “fact” or what sources were even credible.

Logic or emotion? How comforting is reason in what has been billed as the “carnage of America” (January 20, 2017 inaugural address)? Clearly the logic of hope was overcome by the rhetoric of fear.   David Brooks in a January 21, 2017 op ed piece in the Washington Post said, “It took a lot to get us here. It took a once-in-a-century societal challenge—the stresses and strains brought by the global information age—and it took a political system that was too detached and sclerotic to understand and deal with them.”

“A Letter from China” in the January 21, 2017 edition of the Washington Post highlights a Chinese grad student’s efforts to decode US politics. The 30 year old PhD student, Yin Hao, noted that it had been tough to make sense of America lately. Hao predicted that Trump would with the presidency because he had distance and didn’t have a personal stake in the election. For instance, on the appeal of Sarah Palin, she “didn’t give good points or arguments, but she gave you a feeling.” What feeling?

This false choice between either logic or emotion seems to be prominently at play in many societies at present. The challenge is on to facilitate decision-making that is both emotionally satisfying and based upon solid reason, because in the end, emotion often wins.

 (Stay tuned for more posts in this series on Decision Errors)

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