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  • Max Stearns

On Roy Moore -- with update

Quick update: Wow! I've never been quite so happy to be wrong! Thank you Alabamans, or more specifically those who demonstrated that decency still matters.

Original post:

I thought we had reached the height of cynicism, but alas, there are always greater heights to be reached. So a pro-Trump group sends a 12 year old girl to do a one-on-one interview with Roy Moore. What is the point, you might ask? Well to this observer, it's quite clear: to show that he's not going to do anything untoward to her. And so, the reasoning--unstated but all to obvious to anyone paying attention--is that he must not be a child molester!

Now, for those who really are paying attention, we know that he's not alleged to be a pedophile. He's not sexually attracted to prepubescent girls. And even if he were, he certainly would not have gone after this girl in this setting. Instead, he is alleged to target post-pubescent underage girls, including young teenagers. This cynical video certainly does nothing to dispel that one way or the other. But the creators of this "charming" civics lesson for today's Alabama youth weren't motivated by nuance.

I won't take a bet against the interest of our nation, but if I did, I'd bet on Roy Moore winning. I'm on a conference panel tomorrow discussing something called the "prominence effect." It was developed by psychologist Paul Slovic, and given its name by Amos Tversky. The idea is that when one of two considerations are given equal value, and when one is more prominent, then even if you raise the value of the other, people will tend to select the more prominent consideration in an ultimate choice. A lesson of Election 2016 is that when an election is "about" one candidate, that candidate, the prominent one, is apt to win. This is true no matter how much you demonstrate his failings or try to prop up the other. Brace yourselves. I fear we will relearn this lesson tomorrow.

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