General Electile Dysfunction: an election that lasts longer than 4 days is a serious medical problem

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First 100
First 100
Jan 18, 2015
Disinformation in 2020
Fake news has spread among unsuspecting Americans on social media, potentially affec...
Since Election Day, numerous false allegations of fraud have been published on social media and repeated elsewhere, most of which have been easily debunked, yet a large swath of the population still appears to believe them.

According to a recent poll roughly three-quarters (77%) of Trump backers say former Vice President Joe Biden’s election win was due to fraud despite there being no evidence to back this up.

So what is it about the human psyche that makes us so susceptible to disinformation?

“The short answer is that it has less to do with the content of the information and more to do with the social identity of the person,” Dannagal Young, political psychologist and associate professor at the University of Delaware, told ABC News. “What's driving some of these inclinations is about who these people feel they are, what groups they're associated with, who they identify as and who they identify with."

Exploiting divisions

As of Friday, Biden had nearly 80 million votes -- some 10 million more than the previous record set by Barack Obama in 2008. But President Trump also eclipsed Obama's record with nearly 74 million votes at last count. The record turnout was propelled in part by record mail-in voting due to the pandemic, which Trump and his allies, have claimed, without evidence, is ripe for fraud.

Also fueling doubt is the fact that Trump appeared to lead in several key states on election night, only to see those leads reversed when mail-in ballots were counted. Trump has also been relentlessly attacking the ballot-counting procedures in several key states since Election Day.

Young argued that the political parties in the United States have become increasingly correlated with two distinct cultures defined by religious identity, racial identity and geographic location. As a result it’s easier to create a false story that taps into those identities, making one side or the other more likely to believe it.

Add onto the political environment the fact that we’re living through a pandemic, when people are extremely anxious and uncertain about the future, and you have a perfect storm of conditions to sow disinformation, the experts said.

“If you just feel like things are out of control, that that can be really debilitating. So people want to impose order on the world," said Young. So if someone offers a wild theory, even though it might not be logical, you’re more likely to believe it because it helps explain your situation and give you control.

Accompanying the deepening divisions in the U.S. is anger and distrust of the others side.

Young said that if you can create a target and turn that fear into anger, that will give an extra incentive for someone to believe you. “It seems counterintuitive, but anger makes people feel optimistic because anger has a forward driving momentum."

'Cognitive misers'

Dr. David Rand, a cognitive scientist at M.I.T., acknowledged that people are more likely to believe something that aligns with how they see the world but argues that there’s a much simpler reason for why people fall for disinformation. He says that people are "cognitive misers," which he says essentially means that the brain will always look for the simplest solution to a problem, and that especially with social media, people just don’t take the time to analyze the information properly.

“Our work suggests that if you ask people to stop and think about is this true, most people are actually pretty good at telling sort of like fake news from true news,” he told ABC News.

The platforms, by design, are like built to focus your attention on things other than whether content is accurate or not," he added. Firstly users are scrolling so fast they don’t have time to engage their brains -- people are thinking about what will get them more likes and retweets not necessarily whether what they post is true. “It makes you think about how are people going to like this? What's it going to say about me? Not 'Is it accurate?”

Where the information is coming from

Where the information comes from also influences how likely you are to believe it. Rand explained that people are more likely to believe information from people that they trust and that they think are reliable. "You can have something that you find really surprising, doesn't fit with your previous beliefs at all," he said.

"But if it's from a source you really trust, then you think, 'OK, I guess I was wrong.' Whereas if it's from a source you think is sketchy, then you're like more likely the source is wrong than everything I know about the world is wrong," Young said.

Young also emphasized this point saying it's particularly dangerous when elites spread disinformation, because the reader's mind is less likely to do the critical thinking if he or she thinks someone they respect has already done this for them. “This is why the rhetoric of elites like politicians or journalists or people we respect is so powerful because, again, their status serves as a cue," added Young.

As a result of media coverage, people are more aware of disinformation but nobody seems to think they will ever be duped by it -- what Young calls the "third-person effect." “Everyone is susceptible to disinformation. We think that other people are, but we're not. It's such a logical fallacy because we can't all be right or it wouldn’t be a problem,” Young added.

Of course, if someone believes they’re immune to disinformation, that means it’s very difficult to change their minds once they’ve taken hold of a false narrative.

Research suggests that debunking a falsity can actually have the opposite effect and help propagate the original falsity if not done properly. Young suggests debunking be done using the "truth sandwich" effect, whereby you preface the falsity with what is true, discuss the false allegation and then reiterate what is true.

Introducing a "speed bump" that forces people to think more about the information they consume, like the warning labels platforms like Twitter and Facebook have begun to place on false or misleading posts, are proven to lessen the spread of those posts according to Rand's research.

“There are several papers now showing if you just put a warning on something when people first see it, it makes them less likely to believe it and less likely to share it, regardless of whether it aligns with their ideology or not,” said Rand.


First 100
First 100
Jan 18, 2015
Here are the GOP lawmakers who have called on Trump to acknowledge Biden's victory
President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede the 2020 presidential election to rival president-elect Joe Biden. Accompanying Trump's unprecedented denial of the election results are various lawsuits in which the Trump campaign has alleged voter widespread voter fraud or a conspiracy to thwart the president. These claims are baseless.

Democrats have fumed at the president's stonewalling of the transition process while federal courts have thrown out several of the Trump campaign's lawsuits. Republican lawmakers have largely stood on the sidelines.

A small but growing minority of congressional Republicans and elected leaders around the country, however, have begun to acknowledge Biden's victory. Some have called on Trump to step aside, and others have issued threats of action themselves.

Here is a running list of the Republican officials who have acknowledged Biden's victory.

About a fifth of the Republican Senate has explicitly acknowledged Biden's victory. Some GOP senators, including Sens. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and James Lankford, have called on Biden to receive intelligence briefings but have declined to call him president-elect.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
"I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and will be ready to work with their administration when it takes office," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement.

The moderate Alaska senator has also signaled she will support nominees to Biden's Cabinet, provided they are "within the mainstream."

“He’s our president-elect. All presidents have a right to their Cabinet,” Murkowski said.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse
In a statement to the Omaha World-Herald, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said "we pray for both President Trump and President-Elect Biden, that both would be wise in the execution of their respective duties during this important time in our nation."

Sasse has admonished the Trump campaign's legal fights in swing states, saying in a statement that "they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud –because there are legal consequences for lying to judges."

The senator has also said the public should ignore tweets or claims of conspiracy and instead focus on "what the President’s lawyers are actually saying in court."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
"Well, that'll be the president-elect's decision obviously," Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, told reporters when asked about potential Cabinet picks for the Biden administration.

Rubio has also cast doubt on Trump's allegations of fraud, tweeting "Taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud And court challenges to votes cast after the legal voting deadline is NOT suppression."

Maine Sen. Susan Collins
In a statement, Sen. Susan Collins congratulated president-elect Biden for his victory, urging voters "to be patient," with the counting of votes.

"I would offer my congratulations to President-elect Biden on his apparent victory," Collins wrote.

Collins, a Republican from Maine, has also said she gives “great latitude” to presidents in selecting their Cabinets, stating she will likely vote for Biden's nominees to executive branch agencies.

Collins has also called Trump's attacks on the legitimacy of the election "wrong," saying that the insinuations of widespread fraud "undermines the public’s faith in our election results without evidence and court rulings to support the allegations.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
"President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," Sen. Pat Toomey wrote in a statement after a federal judge threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit alleging widespread fraud in the state, without evidence.

"President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process," Toomey's statement continued.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney
"Ann and I extend our congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris," Utah Senator Mitt Romney said in a statement shortly after Biden's victory was projected by multiple media outlets.

"We know both of them as people of good will and admirable character. We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead."

Romney has called Trump's refusal to concede "undemocratic" and has lambasted the president and his allies for casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

House of Representatives
A smaller percentage of the GOP caucus in the House have acknowledged Biden's victory, with some instead echoing conspiracy theories alleging that the election was somehow stolen from Trump.

GOP House Leader Jim Durkin (Illin.)
“The election is over. Begin the transition process,” Rep. Jim Durkin told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The people have spoken in this country. I hope that the president understands that there is no avenue for him to be able to overturn these results, and we are at a point in time in which there needs to be a cooling off period and a transition of power to the president-elect," he continued.

“I’m a pragmatic Republican. And I believe that you know that there is winners and losers in every election. You may not like the outcome but the fact is, you’ve got to move on.”

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wy.)
Rep. Liz Cheney, from Wyoming, called on Trump to respect "the sanctity of our electoral process" if the campaign's claims of widespread fraud cannot be supported with evidence in court.

"If they have genuine evidence of this, they are obligated to present it immediately in court and to the American people," Cheney said in a statement.

"If the President cannot prove these claims or demonstrate that they would change the election result, he should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process.”

Alaska Rep. Dan Young
"I wish the President-elect well in what will no doubt be the most challenging chapter of his political career," Alaska Rep. Dan Young said in a statement.

“It is time to put the election behind us, and come together to work for a better tomorrow for our nation,” Young continued.

"I call on President-elect Biden to listen carefully to those who did not vote for him," Young cautioned as well.

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney
"Congratulations to [President-elect] Biden on a successful campaign," Rep. Francis Rooney, from Florida, said in a statement. "All Americans need to come together to support [President-elect] Biden. Our nation will only be successful if the new admin is."

Rooney also penned an op-ed in The Hill titled "Time to concede: The peaceful transition of power is an American tradition," in which he called on Trump to step down.

Illiniois Rep. Adam Kinzinger
“Sofia and I extend our Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our nation deserves two competing parties who can work together when possible, and compete honorably when not," Illiniois Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted.

Illinois Rep. John Shimkus
"Even though I supported his opponent, I wish President-elect Joe Biden well," Rep. Adam Shimkus, of Illiniois, said.

“The peaceful transition of power is a signal to the world of the strength of democracy and the resilience of our Republic. Even though I supported his opponent, I wish President-elect Joe Biden well," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell
"Congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. This election was hard-fought by both candidates and ultimately the voters chose them for the job," Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell tweeted.

"Given the complexity, we need to start the process of transition to a new administration," Mitchell also urged on CNN.

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon
"I believe the handwriting is on the wall that Joe Biden has been elected as the next President," Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon told Nebraska's KETV7.

"I know the president has the rights to use the courts, as does impression is, though, that Joe Biden will be president. We need to respect the will of the voters," he said.

New York Rep. Tom Reed
"We must continue to transparently count and certify all of the American people's votes to its complete conclusion. ... However, out of respect and in deference to the moment, I extend my congratulations to President-elect Biden," New York Rep. Tom Reed said.

“I respect the president’s right to pursue those lawsuits but I also recognize that if you look at our two hundred year history and you look at the numbers of those lawsuits that Joe Biden has rightfully earned the title of being the projected president-elect and that should be recognized,” he said.

Texas Rep. Will Hurd
“America has spoken and we must respect the decision. More unites us than divides us; we can find common ground," Texas Rep. Will Hurd tweeted, stating that "I hope the president-elect can embody this."

Utah Rep. John Curtis
"Until a judicial decision determines wrongdoing, Joe Biden should be acknowledged as the President-Elect," Utah Rep. John Curtis said.

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman
"Christine and I extend congratulations and well wishes to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman tweeted.