WASHINGTON — Researchers at the Brookings Institute have published the results of a landmark 4-year study on the effects of political ideology and individual perceptions of reality. Among the findings is the revelation that the overwhelming majority of participants who support President Trump suffer from a remarkable inability to appreciate or comprehend basic irony.
“It’s really quite astounding,” the authors say, “that when presented with even the most obvious of ironies, nearly 85% of participants who report a ‘favorable’ view of President Trump simply could not see it.”
The study was conducted with nearly 10,000 participants who were presented with images and scenarios containing varying degrees of irony. They were then tasked with identifying how much, if any, irony was present.
In one task, subjects were presented with tweets from President Trump condemning mail-in voting as fraudulent and urging his supporters to vote in person ahead of the election. The subjects were then shown the mail-in voting results, which, of course, were skewed heavily toward Joe Biden.
When presented with subsequent tweets from President Trump questioning the ratio of mail-in votes that disproportionately favored Joe Biden, 100% of subjects who report a “disfavorable” view of President Trump selected the “Obvious Irony” option, while the majority of Trump supporters chose “Voter Fraud,” which wasn’t actually an option but was written in by hand.
In another obvious example, subjects were shown images and videos from right-wing pundits such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Steven Crowder condemning so-called “safe spaces” in schools and universities.
The subjects were then shown social media posts from Facebook and Twitter that featured conservatives announcing their departure to Parler, an alternative social media site where misinformation and conspiracy theories are free from censorship and fact-checking. Neutral and anti-Trump participants alike all selected, “Most Ironic Thing I’ve Ever Seen.” Trump supporters overwhelmingly selected “Free Speech,” which, again, wasn’t an actual option.
Other simple examples include, but are not limited to: Melania Trump’s use of chain immigration and President Trump’s condemnation of the practice; the wall that was built around the White House in the week before the election as compared to an open stretch of desert on the US-Mexico border; Trump supporters chanting “count the vote” and “stop the count” on the same night in two separate cities.
The results of the study hold zero implications for anything and surprised absolutely nobody.