Tomorrow is April fools Day, which raises the question: how many fools are there? (Does the apostrophe go between the l and the s, or after the s?)
Among the many, many detestable things that Donald Trump and his “best people” have done is shake my former faith in the good sense of most Americans–and increase my estimate of the country’s percentage of fools.
If the last two years have taught me anything, it is that approximately a third of Americans are unable or unwilling to recognize stupidity and incompetence when they see it. I’m not talking about bad ideas, unworkable policies or even the venality and self-dealing that has characterized this administration; I’m talking about the special blend of arrogance, ignorance and limited intellectual capacity that Trump demonstrates anew every day.
Trump touted at an event in Ohio that the U.S. was the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas in the world. He suggested that would not have been the case had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election.
“Hillary wanted to put windmills all over the place,” he told workers at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio.
Trump then mimicked a man telling his spouse to “turn off the television” when the wind doesn’t blow in order to save electricity. The joke was reminiscent of a similar line he delivered earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he derided the Green New Deal.
“Put the windmills up, and watch the value of your house if you’re in sight of a windmill — watch the value of your house go down by 65 percent,” he said Wednesday. “Wonderful to have windmills. And solar’s wonderful too, but it’s not strong enough, and it’s very very expensive.”
How incredibly dumb do you have to be in order to believe that if you use wind power, its availability will be intermittent–that when the wind isn’t blowing, the energy isn’t available? Does he really think the enormous growth of wind power use would have occurred if that was the way it worked?
Has he ever heard of batteries?
And solar is not weak and “very expensive.”One megawatt-hour of solar-produced electricity in North America currently costs $50, compared to $102 for coal-originating power, according to new analysis.
Alternative power generation is much cheaper now over the lifetime of a plant than when working with traditional fuels like coal, according to a report by investment bank Lazard.
I’ve posted before about this administration’s war on science; much of it is being waged by former lobbyists who’ve been installed at the EPA and Department of the Interior to protect the bottom lines of fossil fuel interests. Those officials probably know better and simply don’t care–maybe they have grandchildren who don’t have to breathe air and drink water.
But I don’t think Trump does know better. (One of the reasons I never thought he actually colluded with Russia is that he lacks the mental capacity and self-discipline for collusion–he was simply Putin’s useful fool.) Trump is a walking, talking illustration of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effectis a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence.
I think that is a perfect description of Trump.
The more important question is: what explains those Americans who–two years into this disastrous Presidency–still support him and cheer him on? A lot of it, of course, is simply racism/white nationalism. He hates and fears the same people they do, and in return, they’re willing to overlook the fact that he is an embarrassing idiot. But some of it may also be attributable to their own Dunning-Kruger effects.
Either way, the rest of us need to get off our duffs, soundly defeat him and them in 2020, and begin to reclaim and rebuild our country.
Otherwise, Fools Day won’t just be in April.