‘For some voters, it’s just not cool to be smart, and the view seems to be gaining popularity…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A recent piece in Psychology Today is the latest effort by partisan liberals to deconstruct the elusively enigmatic appeal of President Donald Trump using dubious scientific research.
Their conclusion: He dumbs things down.
Many academics, sequestered in the left-leaning ivory towers of college campuses, were shocked and overcome with righteous indignation at the results of the 2016 election.
The reasons for Trump’s political success—notably, his ability to take on the corrupt Hillary Clinton campaign, his refusal to capitulate to blatantly biased media smears and his promise to dismantle the years of radical social-engineering during the Obama administration—may seem obvious to the president’s supporters.
Left-wing elitists, however, have continued to interpolate other factors, with the foundational assumptions being their own superior intellect and emotional complexity.
Often, the suggestion is that the public was, in some way, duped into voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton—which these so-called scholars condescendingly assert was an irrational decision, clearly indicative of a lack of healthy, normal reasoning capacity.
Such was the thrust of a 2017 study conducted by a University of Texas at Austin graduate student and her professor, a leading social psychologist in the area of linguistics.
In “The exception or the rule: Using words to assess analytic thinking, Donald Trump, and the American presidency,” Kayla N. Jordan and James W. Pennebaker concluded that Trump measured low on a scale devised by Pennebaker to gauge a person’s intellectual processes based on his use of low-level vocabulary words.
In fairness, such linguistic analysis has been the focus of Pennebaker’s research throughout his career, and Trump’s unique rhetorical approach certainly invited a study of this kind.
“The analysis of speeches, debates, and various documents demonstrates that Trump stands out from other politicians as being very low in analytic thinking,” the researchers wrote in their abstract.
“However, he represents the next step in a trend wherein most Presidents and presidential candidates have been becoming less analytic. Trump may be an anomaly, but he is also a part of a long-developing presidential pattern,” they said.
The “findings” played well into a common left-wing trope—the same thread that insisted Yale-educated George W. Bush was a cowboy dummy while Barack Obama was “cerebral” and “erudite,” casting aside his failures in leadership because he was too busy being immersed in deep thoughts.
More interesting than its discoveries about Trump (revealing his language to register nearly 20 points lower than Clinton’s on the scale, 23.8 to 42.8) were that Ben Carson—a literal brain surgeon—scored the lowest among Trump’s Republican competitors (39.1), while Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, scored the highest (62.1).
The study also looked at the broader historical trends, suggesting presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have declined in their analytical-thinking quotients based on Pennebaker’s linguistics scale.
This coincides, conveniently, with the emergence of broadcast media as a primary communications platform, one that lends itself to the sort of concise “sound bite” statements that Trump—a public figure and television personality for the past four decades—seems to have mastered.
It was from this study that Bobby Azarian—a partisan hack with a long history of promoting a political agenda under the auspices of science—staged his recent attack via the Psychology Today blog “Mind in the Machine.”
Although he purports to be a doctor of neuroscience, Azarian’s degree is a Ph.D, not a medical degree, and he appears to have worked in no professional research capacity other than a few short-term stringer assignments since graduating from George Mason University in 2014.
But as a freelancer for far-left media—including Salon, Slate, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast and the Huffington Post—Azarian has received a warm embrace due to his willingness to lend pseudo-scientific authority to outlandish and sensational conservative-bashing claims.
Azarian wrote similar hit pieces on Trump—attempting to diminish the intellectual faculties of his supporters—prior to the 2016 election, and he was more recently vaulted into the liberal echo chamber for claiming a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage.
His latest blog post, just in time for the new election cycle, rehashed one he originally published in 2017, shortly after the UT linguistics study was first released.
“While the analytically-minded may see Donald Trump’s opinions and answers as superficial and uninformed, many people view them as straightforward and relatable,” Azarian said.
Azarian acknowledged that a less complicated style of communication could prove to be a political asset—as it did in Trump’s case.
“A certain degree of perceived ignorance can be beneficial for a presidential candidate, especially if he can pass it off as being ‘folksy,'” he said.
However, he then strayed from the research in order to do some editorializing of his own.
“Perhaps presidents are just becoming better at simplifying complex information into direct, simple language. But the case of President Trump seems to tell a different story,” Azarian wrote.
“It appears to indicate a thriving movement composed of individuals who are anti-intellectual and anti-science, and they want a president who is the same,” he continued. “For some voters, it’s just not cool to be smart, and the view seems to be gaining popularity.”
Of course, when this is what passes for ‘science’ in scholarly publications, it is easy to see why some conservatives might come across as “anti-science”—but that, too, is likely to become a topic in need of further (government-funded) research by progressive “thinkers.”