New Scientist offers a psychological analysis of Trump’s election

It’s all about fear, see? From Dan Ariely and Vlad Chituc at New Scientist: It’s explained by the fact that, in a famous 1950s experiment, baby rhesus monkeys preferred a soft cloth with no nourishment to a wire that dispensed milk.

In nature, emotions typically align with self-interest: most mother monkeys provide both comfort and milk. Emotions are how evolution motivates us to do what we need to survive. A newborn triggers love, so we nurture; a rustle at night triggers fear, so we run.

Earlier this week, the US joined the likes of Russia in electing somebody who knows the power of fear very well. Although many forces brought us here, it’s notable that Trump pawned the nation’s long-term interests for the motivating power of fear at nearly every step.

Despite virtual unanimity among economists that immigration and free trade offer net benefits to the economic wellbeing of even the poorest in the country, and an even stronger consensus that human-driven climate change is a real and impending threat, Trump instead stoked fears about Mexican rapists and a Chinese conspiracy to weaken the US economy and take jobs.

Voters had a choice between slow, incremental progress and fear. Fear won. More.

Odd. For the last eight months, I (O’Leary for News) helped out  here at BCF, covering the American election. Reading the stuff at New Scientist, I can honestly say that they just do not seem to be describing the same election.

See also: Nature: Scientists “stunned” by Trump win Why? Doesn’t that speak poorly of the powers of the scientific method?


Rob Sheldon on science and the US election Sheldon: Tell your European colleagues not to flee America, but instead emigrate here, because there probably will be a lot of job openings available.