Making Sense of November 8th, 2016

Making Sense of November 8th, 2016

Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States on November 8th, 2016 in an upstart victory that, frankly, no one thought possible. As Daniel Estrada describes his feelings prior to November 8th, "I was convinced that Clinton would win not just because all the sources in the media said she would, but because I though [politics as usual] was the dominant position." My assessment that Clinton would win the election was not as thoughtful as Daniel's, but it was just as strong:  Clinton was all-but guaranteed the victory.

The media, after all, had all but promised a Clinton victory, with election predictions giving Donald Trump a 1 to 28.6% chance of securing the necessary electoral votes to win the White House.  So, what in the world happened, and how does it affect life as we know it?  

In order to understand the ramifications of the 2016 election we need to examine three key factors: 

  1. Political Polarization
  2. Historical Context
  3. Words, the best words

Arguing on the Internet

Every now and then, a peer of mine will ask me why I spend so much time "Arguing on the Internet" and they usually follow it up with a quip about how it's futile and how arguing on the Internet has never changed anyone's mind. I've always found this question to be a little misguided, but never quite knew how to articulate my misgivings.

You see, I'm a humanist - meaning that I believe in the inherent worth of every human, regardless of their race, gender, orientation, or religion - and I've been a fairly passionate advocate for it since I was old enough to string two sentences together. Plus, as anyone in my family will be quick to tell you, I like arguing - on the Internet or otherwise.

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization
The Deffuant-Weisbuch (DW) model describes how interconnected individuals can influence one another's beliefs. The less certain someone is about their belief, the more that individual could be swayed towards the belief of a more confident individual with whom they interact. Under the DW model, "extremists" are defined as a minority of people who are very confident about and unlikely to change their beliefs. As a result, if an individual is uncertain about their belief, they are more likely to be swayed by an extremist.