This is not a post about our president but something more general, a lifestyle that can be adopted by anyone in any arena, at any scale, for any reason, in any culture, disguised as serving any goal. It is an attempt at a unified theory of what makes some humans particularly dangerous company, the product of 25 years of psycho-proctological study – investigating the nature and origins of absolutely asinine behavior.
While humans make many errors, some of them horrific, error is not evil. Rather, pretending one is infallible, incapable of error is evil. Evil is the product of people absolutely engaged in the trumpbot lifestyle, and therefore appropriately called trumpbots.
A trumpbot is someone who simplifies and doubt-proofs their life by means of a simple robotic formula expressed with automatic, robotic confidence. Here’s the formula or algorithm could be programmed easily into a natural language AI program:
If it sounds good, it’s about me. If it sounds bad, it’s about my competitors.
To apply this formula, one need not attend to the meaning of words, only to their positive and negative connotations. For example, a trumpbot operating in a culture where “communist” or “capitalist” has positive connotations, will proudly declare that they are a communist or capitalist respectively. In a culture where “communist” or “capitalist” has negative connotations, a trumpbot will accuse his competition of being a communist or capitalist respectively.
What “communist,” “capitalist” or any word means is not only unimportant to the trumpbot; it is crucial that the trumpbot ignores all meaning. Their sole and absolute priority is robotic sorting – all positives to them, all negatives to threats to them. To pay attention to the meaning of terms would be a bug in the software. It would complicate the algorithm’s performance, and return the trumpbot to human fallibility.
A robotic, confident insistence is, however, important to trumpbots. It’s how they can convince non-trumpbots to attend to the meaning of the words as though the trumpbot cared. It’s also how they can wear opponents down and therefore declare another victory in their uninterrupted, infallible winning streak.
The range of people who can become trumpbots:
There are part-time trumpbot hobbyists and paid professional trumpbots. It can’t be stressed enough that they can pretend that they care about any cause, indeed, through their relentless robotic confident insistence that they care more than anyone else even though like robots they don’t care at all. They are not ideologists; they "ideologize" the trumpbotic formula disguising it with a fake ideological mission.
They are often drawn to a mission because it affords them relief from doubt. Once involved with the mission, they adopt the trumpbotic formula, the same formula used by all trumpbots, including those of all rival trumpbot cults.
Some are born trumpbotic, some achieve trumpbotics and some have trumpbotics thrust upon them. In studying Nazi administrator Adolph Eichmann, political theorist Hannah Arendt identified the banality of evil, characterized by rationalizing evil as Eichmann did with empty cliches.
I would add two other categories:
The venality of evil: Cruel sado-narcissism, often congenital – born with unscrupulous trumpbotic tendencies, as with Stalin.
The carnality of evil: The retaliation of the humiliated, evil achieved through a lust for vindictive power as with incels, the involuntarily celibate.
The banality of evil: trumpbotics thrust upon them by being education deprived and subsumed within a culture undergoing a trumpbotic epidemic, as with Eichmann.
Everyone is susceptible. Doubt, uncertainty and overwhelm are universal characteristics of human existence, a product of what distinguishes humans from other organisms, our linguistic and technical competence which exposes us to more doubt-inducing possibilities than any of us can handle. We trudge through life trying to find our way and stay our course through a sandstorm of possibilities that has, with the internet become a sand-typhoon of possibilities.
In human history, this, the information overwhelm internet age (21st Century ADHD) would be the perfect sandstorm, a time of greatest susceptibility to trumpbotic retreat into algorithmic self-assertion, people from diverse cultures finding shelter within the trumpbotic lifestyle. And the more trumpbotic cults feign infallibility, the more it encourages other cults to respond in kind. What results is what we see today: infallibility battles between competing trumpbot cults.
In trumpbot epidemics, the most resistant populations are those that have a visceral aversion to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is another name for the trumpbot’s algorithm: “If it confirms me I’m listening if it doesn’t affirm me I’m not listening.”
Almost all people recognize confirmation bias in others (“I hate know-it-alls”) but many people think that because they see and hate confirmation bias in others, they must not be susceptible to it. I call this move, “exempt by contempt.”