Default Settings and the Smartest People in the Room

People, like computers, have natural default settings or positions.  Creatures of habit, we all do this to save ourselves literally from the figurative beast of having to think things through thoroughly.  When we don't need to consciously invent a new behavioral reaction to a situation that we have seen before or experienced many times we don't do it.  Sometimes, though, we have this little stab of worry in the backs of our minds that too much of this instinctual thinking makes us look like we not really in control of our mental lives.

But people have all kinds of default—like behavioral settings ingrained in them for good reason.  Social instances where we do a certain thing with the muscles of our face, extension of hand, and body language are almost as ingrained in us as where we put the fork with a glob of food on it.  When we swerve to avoid another car on the road we are using something more akin to instinct, since the basic success of this reaction has a lot more to do with something our ancestors of long ago ingrained in their brains as locked—in defaults, i.e., turning to run when the mastodon charges or swerving our car to avoid it.

People also have intellectual defaults.  When you see an image of a famous person, place or thing, you have an immediate nibble of a reaction to it.  This is the first level of that kind of default.  Sometimes the reaction is stronger, sometimes not so.  It depends on how many times you've seen it and what kind of verbal baggage, experience, or emotion has come with it in the past, among other things. 

In some instances we allow other people's reactions, not to mention their longest held beliefs, to color our own.  Try to imagine the face of a famous or infamous politician, president, foreign political actor, you name it, and not have that immediate ping that feels a bit borrowed.  Authority figures are sometimes persuasive enough to override the deepest of our deepest held defaults.  The simple fact is that, although we are not robots in either our defaults or in our ability to be dissuaded from them, repeated efforts to nudge the longest held of our defaults out of the way does work.

But Old Media types have good reason to be frustrated these days over how our defaults have become excessively 'corrupted' or even 'tainted' by the New Media.  Several decades ago the Old Media went to a lot of time and trouble to tweak and adjust our defaults, and viewers of fifties and sixties broadcasts still have, to one degree or another, a large library of default reactions to specific images, although more information has tended to weaken their power.  And, of course, it was realized early on that televised images could be a powerful tool with all kinds of politically useful connotations.

Now people have available to them a broader and deeper knowledge source than the Old Media, for one reason or another, ever presented.  Images and a few words can only go so far and Old Media's MO of framing a news story for a pre—ordained bang for the media buck also tended to squeeze out useful information.  Eventually it was clear to discerning viewers that the 'reality' they saw on television or read about did not jive with what they knew and understood to be the truth.  News didn't seem to be news anymore but rote attempts to create defaults, even if it came at the cost of the news organization's long term credulity.

However, it is possible that any person so inclined to become a liberal might still become one even if never exposed to Old Media framing of issues.  Without a doubt, though, it is an absolute certainty that there would be more of them today if the New Media had never come into existence. 

Years before the rise of NM people questioned, and were at times angered, over the way the OM presented 'news.'  On the other hand the people that accepted the OM take on things felt that they had 'learned' all that they needed to know and their pristine defaults were obviously locked in for life.  Theirs was an academic—like reaction to information that deviated from OM 'received wisdom' and was rejected every time it reared its default challenging head. 

Thus armed to the teeth with 'received wisdom' ordinary liberals continue to believe that the Democratic Party is the party of their fathers despite the evidence that it is an increasingly leftward lurching, increasingly anti—American hate fest coalition of the willing and weird. They will continue voting Democrat as if their lives, their liberty, and their sacred default positions depend upon it.

People, like computers, have natural default settings or positions.  Creatures of habit, we all do this to save ourselves literally from the figurative beast of having to think things through thoroughly.  When we don't need to consciously invent a new behavioral reaction to a situation that we have seen before or experienced many times we don't do it.  Sometimes, though, we have this little stab of worry in the backs of our minds that too much of this instinctual thinking makes us look like we not really in control of our mental lives.

But people have all kinds of default—like behavioral settings ingrained in them for good reason.  Social instances where we do a certain thing with the muscles of our face, extension of hand, and body language are almost as ingrained in us as where we put the fork with a glob of food on it.  When we swerve to avoid another car on the road we are using something more akin to instinct, since the basic success of this reaction has a lot more to do with something our ancestors of long ago ingrained in their brains as locked—in defaults, i.e., turning to run when the mastodon charges or swerving our car to avoid it.

People also have intellectual defaults.  When you see an image of a famous person, place or thing, you have an immediate nibble of a reaction to it.  This is the first level of that kind of default.  Sometimes the reaction is stronger, sometimes not so.  It depends on how many times you've seen it and what kind of verbal baggage, experience, or emotion has come with it in the past, among other things. 

In some instances we allow other people's reactions, not to mention their longest held beliefs, to color our own.  Try to imagine the face of a famous or infamous politician, president, foreign political actor, you name it, and not have that immediate ping that feels a bit borrowed.  Authority figures are sometimes persuasive enough to override the deepest of our deepest held defaults.  The simple fact is that, although we are not robots in either our defaults or in our ability to be dissuaded from them, repeated efforts to nudge the longest held of our defaults out of the way does work.

But Old Media types have good reason to be frustrated these days over how our defaults have become excessively 'corrupted' or even 'tainted' by the New Media.  Several decades ago the Old Media went to a lot of time and trouble to tweak and adjust our defaults, and viewers of fifties and sixties broadcasts still have, to one degree or another, a large library of default reactions to specific images, although more information has tended to weaken their power.  And, of course, it was realized early on that televised images could be a powerful tool with all kinds of politically useful connotations.

Now people have available to them a broader and deeper knowledge source than the Old Media, for one reason or another, ever presented.  Images and a few words can only go so far and Old Media's MO of framing a news story for a pre—ordained bang for the media buck also tended to squeeze out useful information.  Eventually it was clear to discerning viewers that the 'reality' they saw on television or read about did not jive with what they knew and understood to be the truth.  News didn't seem to be news anymore but rote attempts to create defaults, even if it came at the cost of the news organization's long term credulity.

However, it is possible that any person so inclined to become a liberal might still become one even if never exposed to Old Media framing of issues.  Without a doubt, though, it is an absolute certainty that there would be more of them today if the New Media had never come into existence. 

Years before the rise of NM people questioned, and were at times angered, over the way the OM presented 'news.'  On the other hand the people that accepted the OM take on things felt that they had 'learned' all that they needed to know and their pristine defaults were obviously locked in for life.  Theirs was an academic—like reaction to information that deviated from OM 'received wisdom' and was rejected every time it reared its default challenging head. 

Thus armed to the teeth with 'received wisdom' ordinary liberals continue to believe that the Democratic Party is the party of their fathers despite the evidence that it is an increasingly leftward lurching, increasingly anti—American hate fest coalition of the willing and weird. They will continue voting Democrat as if their lives, their liberty, and their sacred default positions depend upon it.