Readers: some of the dialogue in this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Entries addressing events in the the future assume there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, ENTRY #387.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

Beginning #378 the entries began focusing on a post-Trump administration and a post-Coronavirus world.  We’re headed to a post-Trump world and post-COVID seems possible, if a ways away.  The premise of a 5th US revolution in the 2020’s decade has not changed.  Comments and suggestions welcome.

ENTRY #397 continues the discussion on cognitive dissonance.

A recent example of a high-profile educated person being unable to connect two dots was the remarks by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at a Federalist Society meeting (11/12/20). Justice Alito, a supporter of individual rights, stated that while the coronavirus pandemic was a major health issue, government had no right to mandate wearing masks.  (20 11 14 NYT Alito Speech to Federalist Society)

Alito, apparently was an epidemiologist before turning lawyer, offered no plan to control the spread of the virus. Sam, in case you haven’t heard, there is no vaccine yet available and the country continues to set records for infections. And where are the most infections per capita?  Yes, in counties and states that voted for Trump.

Based on your remarks, apparently you are willing to let people decide, “I don’t need no stinking face mask ‘cause I ain’t infected.”   Please tell your dude friend he might be infected even though his symptoms are not yet severe. And, if infected, he’s also infecting people all around.   But, hey, that’s okay, right?  People need to be free to do whatever they want.

Here we are a couple of weeks after Alito’s inane remarks at the Federalist Society.  Since his remarks claiming masks were an intrusion on individual rights, the number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled to 200,000+ new cases per day with total cases 13,000,000+, 1/3 of those in the past month.

Justice Alito, I’m glad you weren’t around during World War II when people on the coasts were forced to block out lights during the evening to avoid giving the enemy easy targets to bomb. Glad you weren’t around when the EPA decided that lead in gasoline was dangerous and retarding mental development in children.  Glad you weren’t involved in the FAA decision banning passengers from carrying loaded concealed weapons on airplanes.  Those were bad decisions because some folks lost individual rights, right?

Further, according to the “New York Times” article about your remarks, you were insulted that President Obama mentioned during a State of the Union address that the Citizens United decision by SCOTUS would lead to unlimited spending on elections.  And who was correct?  Obama, but you didn’t need to be a constitutional lawyer to figure it out.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, in a decision released just before midnight, Alito apparently convinced four other SCOTUS justices that connecting two dots was only for liberals.  The court ruled 5-4, with the three Trump appointees voting as a block, that state governors did not have a right to limit the number of people gathered in one location, with special emphasis on allowing religious institutions to conduct services as they saw fit. 

Let me get this logic straight.  The Trump administration specifically mandated that the management of the pandemic was the responsibility of the governors.  Yes, the governors must be in charge.  That mandate was perfectly acceptable for governors of red states, most of whom did nothing.  But don’t let a Democratic governor issue any mandates.  Those mandates must be deemed too restrictive and overturned by SCOTUS.

The illogic of the SCOTUS decision proves once again that, if you’re a Republican, connecting two dots is difficult, if not impossible for you.  Part of the problem seems to be letting political ideology get in the way of common sense.

On another “can’t-connect-two-dots” front, Trump is still claiming voter fraud and that he really won the election.  By last count Biden won by more than 6,000,000 votes, and Trump was the clear loser.  And all states have certified election results.

What’s really disturbing is not Trump’s behavior.  Yes, Trump’s behavior is childish but he’s acted like a child his entire life.  What’s really disturbing?  Based on a credible survey, more than 70% of registered Republicans believe Trump won the election. Huh? 

Call me whatever you want, but folks if you believe Trump won you’re either the dumbest person on earth or you’re brainwashed. Surely you can’t be serious and think Trump won.

Unfortunately, I think they are serious. As noted occasionally, I have a number of friends on Facebook that could be considered far right politically. While their posts are sometimes comical, but often maddening, the posts do provide some idea what people are thinking, or at least how they’re reacting. The insight is helpful and at the same time frustrating.  Somehow they reached a conclusion but clearly there’s a deficit in their thinking and logic.

If 70+% of Republicans believe Trump won the election, that means 30+% of the voting population is effectively brainwashed.  According to Lincoln, “You can fool some of the people all the time…” Apparently 30+% of the population can be fooled all the time. 

30+% of the population being brainwashed makes it extraordinary difficult, if not impossible, to address and solve real societal Issues.  If that many people are so easily swayed, then we need to educate future generations to avoid being so easily swayed.

How do we avoid widespread cognitive dissonance?  Recent emphasis in education has been on “STEM” courses – science, technology, engineering, mathematics. These type courses are excellent for teaching how to solve certain kinds of problems.  Most decisions in STEM classes tend to be binary, either “yes” or “no.”  

While a binary decision is ideal for many situations, the answer in many other situations in life is not so clear-cut. Often two answers can include a portion that is correct and a portion that is not correct. In such situations which one should one choose?

Being forced to choose between “fuzzy” non-binary answers helps develop critical thinking skills.  To come to a conclusion, one must weigh the variables and decide the importance of each variable. 

To ensure students have the opportunity to learn critical thinking and reduce the likelihood of cognitive dissonance, my suggestion is we expand STEM to SMELT – science, mathematics, engineering, liberal-arts, technology.  Further we should start basic SMELT instruction in kindergarten and no later than first grade.

In the real world, children are faced with “fuzzy” decisions all the time. Let’s make sure our education system teaches them “how to” decide when faced with such a situation. The teaching would be “how to” decide and not “what to” decide. Teaching “how to” decide will reduce the likelihood of being brainwashed.

Teaching “how to” decide will also result in people who can at least consider and understand someone else’s perspective. In the binary world, if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong. In the “fuzzy” world we can both agree on some things and work toward a more reasonable and practical solution. 

Biden is a critical thinker.  There is hope we can start to make a change.