The results of the most recent presidential election caused a seismic shift in American consciousness. Conservative voters in the heartland realized their power. Liberals, by contrast, saw the limits of their ideology.
But over and above these political outcomes, the real losers from that night were the so-called experts. For months prior to the election, from practically every authority, Hillary’s odds of victory were put somewhere between seventy-five and one hundred percent. Millions of dollars were poured into polls and data-analysis and number-crunching. Immense quantities of hot air were blown out over the airwaves as pundits prognosticated on the strength of Hillary’s “firewall” and the unlikelihood of a loss.
Of course, this was all for naught. The overwhelming majority of these polling gurus, specialists, and statisticians got the numbers not just wrong, but staggeringly wrong.
As Nassim Nicholas Taleb has pointed out in his book The Black Swan, this sort of wild miscalculation is not as infrequent as you might think. The world is far less stable than we can imagine. New things are happening all the time. And because we are always prone to base our predictions for the future off the occurrences of history, we are bound to be blind in our forecasts.
To me, what this suggests is to take no authority at their word. Since the election, I have branched out wildly in my readings, making sure to include conservative opinions in my Twitter and news feed. Now, before forming an opinion, I make sure to get information from all angles of an issue. Instead of taking for granted that Donald Trump harbors racist tendencies, for example, I read this interesting article. It doesn’t settle the issue, but it’s a valuable additional data point.
As more and more research has shown, social media is making us more isolated from challenging viewpoints than ever before. It is therefore incumbent upon us to fight against these bubbles to expose ourselves to different points of view, and to judge these perspectives fairly and logically, rather than reactively. America is a country filled with good people. Recognizing that is the first step to finding common ground.