Tuesday, February 10, 2004


According to Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance, believers faced with inconvenient facts invent extra hypotheses to explain away the discrepancy. That’s apparently what happened with the press back in 2000. Al Gore was obviously the better candidate and his ideas were far closer to what most reporters probably believed themselves. The journalists were working for corporations that very much wanted Bush elected, however, and stood to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tax cuts that would follow his victory. The pundits couldn’t very well just say, “We’ve got to do what the boss wants and, anyhow, we’re being brilliantly bribed.” Gore simply had to suffer from mysterious personality flaws or, at least, bad taste in clothes. His personal failings weren’t discovered—no surprise there since for the most part they didn’t exist. Like theorems, they were were deduced from the axiom of vanity and the axiom of self interest.

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