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The Time That Reality Forked Right in Front of You - Dilbert Blog

The Time That Reality Forked Right in Front of You

We’re living in one of the most interesting times in human history. We just witnessed reality forking into two separate paths right in front of us.

As regular readers of this blog know, my background in hypnosis and persuasion has erased my belief that some people can see reality for what it is and some cannot. My worldview is that the human brain did not evolve to understand reality on any deep level because we don’t need that ability to survive and reproduce. If your illusion keeps you alive, it’s good enough. And that brings me to today.

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States has effectively forked reality into two versions that are running in parallel. Clinton’s supporters believe they are living in a world that is a repeat of 1930s Germany, with Trump playing the part of Adolf Hitler. See this reaction for a typical example.

Meanwhile, the other half of the country believes we elected a highly-capable populist who will “drain the swamp” and bring a business approach to government along with greater prosperity.

So how do you know which reality is the real one? The fast answer is that you can’t know. As I said, the human brain did not evolve to understand reality. But just for fun and education, I’ll tell you the best way dig down to the next layer of truth: Look for the Cognitive Dissonance trigger.

In this case, Clinton supporters were persuaded to believe that Trump is OBVIOUSLY the next coming of Hitler. Or maybe worse because Trump is also rude and sexist. If that version of reality is true, Trump could not have been elected president. But he was. That’s the trigger for cognitive dissonance: two observations that don’t fit together.

How can it simultaneously be true that Trump is OBVIOUSLY the next Hitler while it is also true that half the country didn’t notice? There are at least three ways to explain-away this dissonance. Maybe…

  • Half the country are sexist, racist monsters too, so they like Trump.

or…

  • Half the country is stupid and can’t identify a Hitler that is right in front of them.

or…

  • Clinton supporters have been duped into believing something ridiculous about Trump.

Given this set-up, most normal human minds would assume the problem was with other people. That’s how cognitive dissonance works. We like to think we are rational while others are not. So you would expect in this situation that Clinton supporters would enter a type of dream state in which they interpret their reality as being surrounded by racist-sexist-stupid citizens who just elected a genocidal dictator. They have to enter this dream because the only alternative involves believing that they themselves are gullible and deluded. 

Trump supporters have no such trigger for cognitive dissonance in this particular case because their candidate won. Their worldview is consistent. They think Trump is the most capable candidate and enough people recognized that fact to make him president. Most of these people believe Trump is not a racist and they believe they are not racists either (or not much anyway). Nothing about a Trump-supporter’s experience would trigger cognitive dissonance. But Clinton supporters have a huge trigger for cognitive dissonance, so it is more likely they entered a new illusion in this particular case. 

For further evidence that the anti-Trumpers are living in an illusion, consider that the street protests against Trump fizzled out. That means the illusion of Trump-as-Hitler is already starting to fade. You also see it in the surging stock market and in the sharp uptick in citizen confidence in the economy. 

The Hitler illusion will continue to fade. But for now the citizens of the United States live in two separate realities. As a hypnotist, I doubt any of us can see reality for what it is. My worldview is that we were in one kind of illusion before and some of us moved to another. When it comes to understanding reality, the best we can do is pick a version that does a good job predicting.

My view of reality predicts that the Hitler illusion will wear off in time because Trump keeps refusing to do Hitler-like things. Check my prediction at the end of Trump’s term. I think you’ll see his popularity continue to improve from here.

You might enjoy my book because it works across every reality.