As you’ll remember, in the last couple months of the 2012 presidential election, a growing body of opinion on right decided that if you took the available public polls (which pointed to an Obama victory) and shifted them several points in Romney’s direction, suddenly they started saying Romney was the likely victor. Thus was born the great unskewing movement of 2012. Of course, it didn’t turn out well.
It wasn’t just ranters on Twitter who were fooled. The candidate himself, Mitt Romney, was shocked on news of his defeat because the unskewing movement had permeated into his own polling operation.
Of course, the greater problem was the conservative misinformation bubble, something that constitutes a powerful weapon is sustaining focus and esprit de corps but causes persistent problems maintaining touch with reality.
We now see something similar emerging with Obamacare, which is showing early signs of being on its way to become a relative success in policy. It is difficult to capture the full depth of paranoia, conspiracy-thinking and derp that has been pervasive on the right in recent years. Just one minor example: Here’s Politifact, little over a month ago, feeling compelled to evaluate conservative claims that Obamacare would mandate beheadings in the US. Politifact rated it “pants on fire.”
Unskewing Movement Founder Dean Chambers
Now without a dead in the water website to cry crocodile tears over, many anti-Obamacare dead-enders are stuck in the echo-chamber of their own misinformation bubble. And thus the reaction when I put together a post noting the publicly available information confirming that roughly 10 million Americans now have coverage because of Obamacare. Hearing news that is deeply unpleasant, frightening or unexpected news often causes feelings of anger and rage. And that accounted for most of the responses.
@joshtpm Josh the screams are because your numbers are crap. They are meaningless. The only numbers that matter have not been released.
— digitalPimple™ (@digitalPimple) January 3, 2014
@joshtpm Never was it sold as an expansion of Medicaid or it would never have passed. BTW, you’re a racist for using the term Obamacare
— IamBetaPsi (@betapsi1266) January 3, 2014
@joshtpm Øcare #’s haven’t soared! We found out most enrolling were eligible for medicaid and the rest were forced on it b/c of cancelation.
— Kat MC (@katzeye75) January 3, 2014
So you’re basically admitting that liberals have made 10M people dependent on government? Congrats, may you rot in hell. @joshtpm
— AdolfJoeBiden™ (@Bidenshairplugs) January 3, 2014
But even some of the angriest people showed moments more surprised, touching and sad. As in this exchange …
— Rabid Dan (@DanThaWildMan) January 3, 2014
Creating your own reality is reassuring and fun. But making first contact with actual reality is jarring if you’ve been living in a delusion bubble. And in this case I fear the collision with policy reality may lead to a level of cognitive dissonance that will spawn new conspiracy theories of a scale we’ve perhaps never seen.