Election lies: All that glitters is not gold
- It seems that voters around the world, whether it’s every five years here in Kenya or every two years in the United States, parliamentarians gather in crowds and speak out at rallies.
- Promises are thrown left and right often with little basis for follow through ability or intentions.
Asenga attended a rally for her local County Assembly (MCA) member candidates in Namanga. He felt compelled by the oratorical skills and promises made by a particular political aspirant.
Afterwards, Asenga went online and posted messages supporting the individual on his social media.
However, years later he was disenchanted after realizing that almost all of the MCA candidate’s political promises were bogus and designed to trick voters into choosing him. Disillusioned, Asenga skipped the next general election and chose not to vote.
As we enter the final months of our election season in Kenya, social media is awash with reflections on why we as voters believe repeated perceived lies.
It seems that voters around the world, whether it’s every five years here in Kenya or every two years in the United States, parliamentarians gather in crowds and speak out at rallies. Promises are thrown left and right often with little basis for follow through ability or intentions.
Unfortunately, our human brain has not evolved with the innate ability to tell fact from fiction. Human survival and world domination was largely based on three aspects. First, superior intelligence compared to other species.
Second, the opposable thumbs that allowed our ancestors to make and use tools and build. Third, our ability to integrate socially and live in large family and clan groups.
Inasmuch as our social nature of working together to survive in the harsh, ancient wilderness is why humans have developed a natural gullibility. Compare us to other species.
If at the Maasai Mara, watch how the pride of a lion attacks a zebra or wildebeest. The other zebras and wildebeests could easily group together due to their numbers and collectively attack the pride of the lion.
But instead, these animals are not evolved and socialized towards herd defense except in occasional random cases. So the lions pick up and eat the zebras and wildebeests one by one over and over again.
To build psychological cohesion within families and clans, our brains quickly identified with those we perceive to be on our side and protecting us.
Someone in our group tells us a story, we are much more likely to believe it and not critically analyze it. Our responses to others are hardwired in our brains to strengthen long-term bonds with our loved ones.
In the ancient world without the advantage of technology, a group that follows a leader who builds cohesion has a much greater chance of surviving to defend against marauders, find prey, and escape natural disasters.
Such rapid action against immediate threats did not require the thought and discernment of the search for truth thousands of years ago. Such meditative brooding could lead to sudden death as hyenas surround children playing in the savannah.
But in this election season, how do we overcome our bias of believing the most charismatic and humorous speaker?
First, recognize that as a human being you have a predilection for fascinating and attractive individuals. No matter how objective you think you are, your brain is not wired for objectivity, as discussed above.
Second, understand that no matter how magnanimous someone is, it has no bearing on their integrity or sincerity. So break down what you hear from someone and think about exactly how you feel about others and why.
Consider whether your opinions about them are based on logic or emotions. Rogue politicians and rude advertisers rely on voters and customers not to take this step in order to manipulate their victims.
Bias and logic
Third, social media analytics expert Jacktone Momanyi recommends actively checking what you hear and read for accuracy and veracity.
Piga Firimbi and Google Fact Checker are useful free tools where NodeXL and BrandWatch are great paid software for dissecting what influencers are looking for and spreading rumors and misinformation.
Remember our affinity for ties and believing that those we love were key to our ancient survival.
But in the modern world, such credulity is outdated and harmful. Take steps to free yourself from bias and base our decisions on logic.
Dr. Scott can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor