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Monday, June 5, 2017

YOU GOTTA BELIEVE

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Contrary evidence won’t sway some people

The so-called Russia-Trump problem is a lot like the Loch Ness Monster. People have been talking about “Nessie” for what seems like forever (actually, the legend dates back 1,500 years), and every so often someone claims to have evidence that it exists. But it’s always a fuzzy photo of a hump, or two humps, protruding above the surface of the water, like the hull of an overturned boat.

Sometimes the photo evidence of Nessie actually turns out to be a broken-off tree branch floating in the water, casting a shadow just beneath the water’s cloudy surface, of a strange, swimming, elephant-like beast, with flippers instead of feet.

So many people want to believe the Loch Ness monster is real, but there’s no serious reason to think it is. Since the first photograph of Nessie in 1933, the scientific community has never confirmed the Loch Ness Monster's existence.

But that doesn’t keep the media or millions of people from continuing to speculate about it.

They ignore the dying confession of the photographer’s step-son who admitted that the 1933 photograph of Nessie was actually a hoax, staged by grafting a head and neck onto a toy submarine.

They forget that this lake, in the Scottish Highlands, was sealed off from the ocean at the end of the last Ice Age (at least 10,000 years ago) and that a lone Nessie could not possibly have survived for thousands of years, especially without breeding.

And they ignore the sonar and submersible technology today that would readily reveal such monsters in the lake, if they existed, for anyone really interested in knowing the truth.

Instead, more than one million people every year make the pilgrimage to Loch Ness and the surrounding area, impacting the local economy by over $32 million. And all without there being any evidence of Nessie at all. With all of the evidence to the contrary, “Why are people still searching for the Loch Ness monster?” In a very similar way, and with all of the evidence to the contrary, “Why are we still searching for a Russia-Trump connection?” I mean, never mind that former CIA Director John Brennan has said that the Russians did not hack or otherwise mess with vote tallies on Election Night. Pay no attention that former National Security Director James Clapper testified that he “saw no direct evidence of political collusion between the … Trump campaign and the Russians.”

Forget that House Minority Whip (and Democrat) Steny Hoyer says, “We don’t yet have hard evidence” about the Russian collusion allegations, despite months of investigations. Tune out that Sen. Dianne Feinstein has said (more than once) that there’s zero evidence. Ignore that Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have admitted they have not found any evidence of collusion. Disregard that the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee has also said there was no definitive proof.

With all of that said, Democrats and the media continue dispensing the folklore of some collusion between Russia and Trump, just like the legend of Nessie. But why do they do that? Is it just political, or sport? Or it something more?

Turns out, it’s something more. Whether it’s this Russian collusion connection or the Loch Ness Monster, our brains want to search for something to substantiate our beliefs. Psychologists call it “confirmation bias,” which is the tendency to search for, or otherwise interpret, information in a way that confirms what you already believe, regardless of the facts. You may call it “rationalizing.” Others may call it “missing the forest for the trees.” I call it “denial,” and as the saying goes, denial is not just a river in Egypt.

"Many people quite simply just want to believe," said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. "The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations."

And just like millions are still looking for a way to explain the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, millions in our media and Democrats everywhere are looking to explain how Donald Trump got elected.

Because the reason is still not clear to them, they have made-up this Russian collusion story, to help explain it to themselves.

I get it. I mean, at one point people didn't understand why the sun rose and set each day. And today, many still don’t understand Trump’s election.

That’s fine – but how much longer are we going to talk about this myth?

If we’re going to continue doing that, let’s at least go look for Nessie, too.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.


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