Fear impairs critical thinking

Peter Montoya and Hector Garcia discuss how politics has become the new religion, how the media uses fear to keep audiences engaged, and how this has inadvertently contributed to common misconceptions that are perceived about people on the other side of the political spectrum.

But you mentioned something in your book that I want to ask you about.

You said that that politics has become the new religion. What did you mean by that? Yeah. So I didn’t when I said religion, by the way, I hope I’m not offending anybody who has a very deeply held faith.

The word religion, a synonym for that is a way of life. So for some people, their way of life is surfing. For other people, their way of life is being a dad or a parent. And for many people, their way of life was their religious practice.

And what we’ve seen in the last four years, and especially the last year, was church attendance plummeted and many people turned to politics. And when you look at politics through a slightly different lens, it’s a lot like professional wrestling.

We have the good guys, we’ve got the bad guys, we have the people on the outside of the rings telling us what’s happening, interpreting who’s moral and who’s good and who’s bad. And so for a lot of people, they’re now consuming two, three, four, five hours of political content each and every day, ratcheting up their anxiety and their anger. And that’s all they can talk about. They go to work, they come home at five o’clock, they turn on the news, sit on the couch and watch four or five hours of political news which vilifies, demonizes, objectifies other Americans.

They go to sleep. They wake up while they’re eating breakfast. They’re watching more news. They get in the car. They listen to more talk radio in the car on the way to work. And then they call their spouse and complain about what they just heard about on how bad the other side is.

So here is the very, very painful, painful truth is what political figures have figured out and what many of the many media. When I say media, I mean that phrase very broadly. It could be social media. It could be radio, television, cable.

What they’ve learned is the best way to get your attention is through fear. And the more they can get you addicted to outrage, the more you watch and the more advertising they sell and the higher their revenues are.

It is nothing more than outrage porn. And you’re hearing that going well, Peter, surely the media, not the media that I consume, would ever be that intentionally evil. So here’s here’s the litmus test. If you believe that half of America are evil and are trying to destroy the country, you are currently a pawn on somebody else’s chess board.

Because when you look at the data on what we actually feel on a policy point of view, we’re not that far off. But what the media and political figures have done is they put us into tribes. And when we start talking about tribes, we’re completely divided.

We talk about policy. We have 60 and 70 and 80 percent agreement on every issue, ranging from gun control to climate change to immigration. Yes, even immigration. There’s depending on which question you’re asking regarding policy, it’s 70 percent.

We agree on policy. What we’ve been taught is how to hate one another. We have been given permission to hate one another. Well, I think you’re right on about, you know, fear being a way to boost commercial airtime and to make, you know, to sell to sell commercial airtime.

That is I mean, they don’t tell you. Today, 350 Americans went to and from work and school and to the grocery store, and they were fine. That’s not news. That’s not what keeps you glued to the TV set.

But it certainly has a way of disrupting higher cortical functions like fear. There’s clear research on this. Fear impairs one’s ability to think critically. And that’s a dangerous vulnerability to0. Above and beyond, you know, how much money can be made off of us buying products off, you know, the Internet or the TV as we’re watching these fear mongering news reports. If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation.

My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family. Click the link in the description below.