In Summary
  • You embrace all the evidence that confirms your belief; and you filter out or deny everything that contradicts it.

  • The roads of Nairobi were empty for days; the heated jams were on social media.

Another disputed election. That’s a hat-trick now since 2007.

At the time of writing this, I do not know who won the various poll races held in Kenya, because the official results are not out yet.

But the airwaves and the cybersphere are full of competing narratives, conspiracy theories, accusations and allegations.

The roads of Nairobi were empty for days; the heated jams were on social media.

I have heard the arguments and the imputations. But I have no idea what really happened. None at all.

How can I, without evidence, hard facts and proof? I am listening, and trying to make sense of it all. But at the end of the day I will have to leave it to genuine experts, and hope I can believe in their independence.

PRONOUNCEMENTS

What worries me, however, is what I observe in the pronouncements of acquaintances and strangers all over the land.

What is astonishing is how absolutely certain people are of their positions. They seem to have no doubt at all in their minds.

Whatever they think is the gospel truth. And the opposing side are obviously liars or fools or worse.

Have you ever heard of confirmation bias? This is what happens when you so badly want something you believe to be the truth, that you look for evidence to confirm it, rather than the truth itself.

You embrace all the evidence that confirms your belief; and you filter out or deny everything that contradicts it.

CHEATED

And so one side in this election is utterly convinced it won fair and square. Any suggestions that it might not have must be attacked and ridiculed.

There is no room for doubt. The other side is utterly convinced that it was cheated yet again. They believe it, therefore it is true.

I watch people lay into one another with self-righteous anger and visceral indignation.

We believe this, our leaders have said it, so it must be true. Instead of calming down and studying the actual evidence for a change, we would rather whip ourselves up into a frenzy.

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