The Stupid, Highly Educated Demographic

It’s always disappointing to see people discuss the Tea Party Republicans as an uneducated mass of blithering idiots.

Don’t get me wrong: they are blithering idiots. They’re “stupid people (the actual definition of an ‘idiot’).” They’re simply not uneducated.

Educated? These are the same people that deny Global Climate Change, no?

The Tea Party Republican mindset is the best example of what cognitive psychologists term “intuitive cognitive thinkers.”

People with an intuitive cognitive thinking style tend to be more religious than the primary alternative: reflective cognitive style.

Cognitive style — that is, the way people think and solve problems.

The difference between them, in simple terms:

Intuitive thinking means going with one’s first instinct and reaching decisions quickly based on automatic cognitive processes.

As a contrast, reflective thinking involves the questioning of first instinct and consideration of other possibilities, thus allowing for counterintuitive decisions.

People who have an intuitive thinking style are less likely to reflect on their beliefs when their beliefs are challenged. They are more likely to rely on faith and their gut feeling and are more likely to cherry pick what they read to protect their intuitive notions.

They are also more likely to shrink back against any challenges to their beliefs because their beliefs are so closely tied to their very being – they’re more closely married to their beliefs. Facts attacking their easily falsified beliefs are an attack on their very being.

So when people say that the Tea Party people are uneducated, you have to take a nuanced approach to understanding where the problem lies.

They’re educated. It was correctly said when the Tea Party was exploding in 2008 that most of them were college educated.

The problem is that far too many people, when they are being educated or educate themselves, seek out information and ideas/opinions that validate their preconceived notions. They’re educated on these things, but they come to the same conclusion they started with because they cherry pick what they validates their beliefs and throw out the rest.

So when they read that “tax cuts can boost the economy under certain conditions,” they only like the part that sounds good to them: “tax cuts boost the economy.”

And that’s why, while they may sound like they know what they’re talking about and are passionate about what they believe, they’re missing vital components of what they’re talking about. They don’t take the nuanced, full-bodied lot of information because they find some of it offensive to their sensibilities. It violates their intuitive thinking. It is an offense against what amounts to their religious conviction.

And they become zealots when the facts try to break them.


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