When you have eliminated all which is impossible…

I was surprised to see how the prophesied “red wave” has turned to a “red trickle” in the US mid-term elections. Surprised, that is, in the same kind of way one is “surprised” when a drug regulator recommends mRNA vaccines for infants, or when whoever you vote for you still end up tied to the EU.

I’d like to say that as a Brit, I don’t have a dog in the US fight, but that would be untrue, since the UK itself is such a dog, being increasingly obviously America’s tame but bad-tempered poodle. Accordingly, I had that kind of pessimistic optimism that a shift in the American balance of power might stop my own country rushing with reckless abandon into World War 3 by its acts of global terrorism, as well as destroying its own economy with suicidal sanctions against Russia, China and everyone not sending WMD to supply the Ukrainian black market.

Now, apart from the notable victories of the anti-lockdown governors of Florida and South Dakota, the analysts seem to think that any small Republican majorities in the Congress or Senate will take the equivocal results as public endorsements of the Biden administration. So they will decline to rock the boat. Thus we will probably get both economic and nuclear meltdown anyway (quite possibly without a nuclear button even needing to be pressed).

Sensible liberals like Michael Shellenberger see these results as a sensible American electorate avoiding extremes of right and left by electing a divided government. Alternatively some commentators at the Daily Sceptic reckon that the US has become so politically polarised that, in the event, nothing that happens can change people’s voting by more than a percentage point or two.

And yet it ought to surprise us when, as in 2020, an anticipated landslide almost completely disappears. The polls both on Biden’s popularity (down in the mid 30s) and the likely election results were clearly predicting a Democrat disaster. Well, polls have been wrong increasingly in recent years, but usually because they produce the results their commissioners want, rather than because of accidental errors, and few MSM polls wanted Republican gains.

Meanwhile, even the media types themselves could find little to celebrate in the actual state of the nation under the Democrats. The tanking economy, increasing inflation, fuel shortages, fallout from COVID policies and an apparently less-than-popular war combined, with the undeniable cognitive decline of the President, to cause the MSM to put out guides for their liberal readers on coping with the stress of losing the elections. And did I mention the Lab leak or the Hunter Biden laptop or the immigration crisis or the Fentanyl plague? The media was reduced to placing its hopes on the disgust felt by all right-thinking people because Supreme Court judges decided that states should be allowed to make their own abortion policies. So Democrats and Republicans alike were bracing for a profound change, and it didn’t happen. Curious, Watson.

But the thing that to me is the oddest feature of all is the absolute contradiction between the “voting data” (ie the election result) and the exit polls. Now like opinion polls, exit polls are not infallible. But in this case, the total of those either enthusiastic for, or satisfied by, the government’s performance was a mere 25% – even lower than Biden’s poll ratings. On the other hand, those willing to say out loud that they are either dissatisfied by, or downright angered by, the government’s record was 73%. It is hard to see how such an overwhelming result could correspond to the slight shift to the red side in the votes they had cast just minutes beforehand.

But it happened, and so it can be explained, and to do so we have to employ science. Science, as the New Atheists were always keen to point out, is often counter-intuitive. It may appear that boiling anger against an incompetent government will result in voting against the party in power, but that is simplistic folk-psychology.

It’s as silly as denying that the world has become uninhabitable because the weather is much as you remember 70 years ago, and even the beaches show no sign of sea-level rise. Scientific models and David Attenborough documentaries prove otherwise. It’s as foolish as denying that biological sex is a continuum rather than an obvious and reproductively necessary binary, when students are being taught the former by fully qualified academics not in the least bothered about losing their careers or reputations by bucking a narrative.

No, we need to remember that time-honoured dictum from the words Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle put in the mouth of Sherlock Holmes, the archetypal scientific investigator:

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Accordingly, just as it is simply impossible that mRNA vaccines are other than safe and effective, so that we must look elsewhere to explain ongoing excess cardiac deaths; so, because it is impossible for US election results to be significantly manipulated we must seek the explanation for the “red trickle” in whatever remains. That remainder would have to be the mysterious psychology of voters, who consciously, perhaps, may be desperate about their livelihoods and livid at how their politicians are acting, but subconsciously must have a deep intuition that Blue is True.

Admittedly, I lack clear scientific evidence for this, but I’ve no doubt that, even as I write, that psychologists are exploring this hypothesis at the speed of science, and will have the papers out before I even press “publish.” Remember, after all, that Holmes said that “however improbable” trumps “impossible,” which is how leading biologists have said that whatever the poor evidence is for Darwinian evolution, it is undoubtedly true because the only alternative, special creation, is impossible. In the same way voting fraud is so impossible that Joe Biden even equated it with domestic terrorism in the campaign.

So, on reflection, my surprise at the election results shouldn’t be compared to the mysterious workings of the FDA or MHRA, whose Big Pharma funding is so helpful in enabling dispassionate science, but more with the counter-intuitive findings of relativity or quantum mechanics. I should not be thinking, “There seems no limit to the present corruption,” but “Isn’t science wonderful!”

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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