The November midterm elections won’t be decided by the tawdry Brett Kavanaugh debacle, the fluttery tinsel economy or Robert Mueller’s probe into the clogged colon of Trump’s alleged collusion. Instead, it will be firmly influenced by a simple reality-show trope that sanctifies one of the most destructive ideas to a democracy: “Go with your heart.” At first, that phrase can seem like a minor, even charming convention, but actually, this widely promoted platitude is a symptom of a way of thinking that is detrimental to maintaining American values.
One can see why encouraging people to “go with your heart” is so popular: It puts everyone on the same intellectual level. Forget experts, authorities, facts, statistics or science — everyone is an expert of the heart. Feelings now carry as much weight as the opinions of those who conduct extensive research, who spend years studying and compiling evidence before reaching any conclusions. By elevating the heart above the brain, we discourage people from being rational in favor of being emotional. And emotional people are easier to manipulate.
Here’s how: A recent meme circulating on Facebook is a photograph of an amputee soldier in a wheelchair saluting — accompanied by the outraged message that Facebook had banned the photo as “offensive.” More than 1.25 million people had viewed the photo, and there were many angry comments about patriotism, fake news, liberals, etc.
None of it was true.
Ten seconds on the internet would have proved that, but so many people are imprisoned by their confirmation bias that they can be led around by the “heart” by everyone from politicians to Russian trolls. Research, even for 10 seconds, is for losers who need evidence before being outraged. The cellphone is the greatest single educational tool in the history of the world, yet many don’t use it to get smart, only to justify calling others dumb.
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