That Guy


Upton Sinclair said,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (Thanks go to MG for the quote.)

That’s a powerful observation about human nature and motivation, but when I read it I instantly shifted to our national cultural and political divide. If you’ve had or even overheard a conversation between two people on opposite shores of that divide you likely have wondered how the other guy – let’s say the guy you’d describe as a Trumpy – can possibly believe the unreal things he’s been told and which he’s proudly trumpeting.

Even with various attempts to get “that guy” to see reality, to accept truth, he steadfastly clings to his stated beliefs. Perhaps you’ve metaphorically or literally rolled your eyes and asked yourself some version of, “What’s the matter with that guy? Is he crazy?”

Back to Upton Sinclair.

Suppose we adjust his quote a little so that it reads,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his very sense of himself depends upon his not understanding it.”

Fonzie

Fonzie was one of the main characters in the TV sit-com Happy Days. He was a pseudo tough guy and he had a limitation of not being able to admit he was wrong. Indeed, he was unable to even pronounce the word “wrong” if applied to himself. That made for some funny TV, but what made Fonzie unable to admit he was wrong is the valuable part. Admitting being wrong was antithetical to how he saw himself. Admitting he was wrong would negate his tough guy self-image.

Back to “that guy.”

Presenting proof that the January 6 insurrection was instigated by the President and far right-wing agitators and not by lefty groups would likely fall on deaf “that guy” ears. The same applies to his inability to let go of his belief that Jewish space lasers caused California wild fires and his belief that Democrats run sex trafficking rings. To acknowledge such errors would mean “that guy” would have to admit he was wrong. Yet, like Fonzie, he may well be limited by his self-image so that he’s unable to change his thinking.

Noodling through that brought me to an unexpected place. What, I wondered, does my self-image keep me from understanding?  What if I’m “that guy?” Taking this one step further, what if you’re “that guy?”

Have a look at this TED talk.

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Speaking of That Guy

Paul F. Campos makes an enormously compelling case for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to resign. If he doesn’t do so promptly, we run a great risk of repeating the Ruth Bader Ginsberg Supreme Court justice replacement debacle. Click here to see why Justice Breyer should step down.

Click me

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Wiped Out

I’m still amused by The Great American Toilet Paper Hoarding that began one year ago. Covid wasn’t and isn’t a GI disease, but we grabbed all the TP we could until the shelves were wiped out. We humans are so entertaining.

Has your home stockpile been consumed down to a more normal level by now? If not, what’s up with that?

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JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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