Why Do Angelenos Believe Dumb Stuff?

CORRUPTIONISM-Answer: for the same reason that so many people are fat. There is a lot of junk information and it makes us feel good. 

Human beings have no reliable way to evaluate information. While evolution has provided us reflexes to duck when we see a spear being thrown at us, we do not know how to dodge bad facts. 

The situation is more depressing when one realizes that evolutionary factors have made us susceptible to believing utter nonsense.  

The Role of Feelings in Belief 

While people take in information primarily through sight and sound, most people draw conclusions based on by how it makes them feel. While scientists call it kinesthetic, most of us know it as gut feeling or maybe intuition. The problem is that just as a cheeseburger may make us feel good, it does not mean it’s good nutrition. 

Purveyors of Junk Food and Purveyors of Junk Info 

Eons before there was a Ray Kroc to make McDonald’s world famous, the manufacturing of junk info was in full swing. In fact, Avram did not like the junk info business of his dad, Terah, so he changed his name to Abraham, smashed all the fake news in his father’s idol shop and set out with the Truth – or so the story goes. (It is ironic that the story about the beginning of religious truth is most likely false; however, thinking about discrepancies does not make people feel good so we those who mention inconsistencies.) 

What we can learn from this story and other widely held myths is that people accept as true information that makes them feel good. Thus, feeling good is far more important than truth. 

Feeling Good as the Base of Propaganda 

People in the propaganda business from Ezra, to Paul, to Joseph Goebbels to Cambridge Analytica know that the key to their success is to tell people stories that make them feel good and that accuracy is worth zilch, nada, nil. One of the biggest lies propagandists tell is that their Lie is really Truth. 

About the only time telling a lie might be counterproductive is when the listeners realize that they were deceived. But since people hold onto feeling good so tenaciously, it is close to impossible to convince them they are being feed a steady diet of junk info. Feeling deceived makes people feel bad. 

Why Do We Accept Fake Data as True? 

Human beings have no reliable way to distinguish true from false. In fact, human beings are preconditioned to believe things that are false. Since the world is complex and unpredictable, humans want to feel in control. Thus, they develop magical incantations by which to control nature: Give us rain in our season, let the waters of the Nile flood over in their season, May the Lord bless and keep us, have faith in me, etc. Believing in dogma makes people feel good. 

What Are Some of the Dumb Ideas Peddled to Angelenos? 

(1) Homelessness Is Due to Lack of Construction 

This claim is absurd on its face. The only way we could have a significant shortage of housing would be if we had had a huge influx of new families to Los Angeles since 2000. By 2000, however, the rush to California was over and some areas like Hollywood were losing population. 

(2) We Need to Upzone the Entire City 

Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill, SB 827, would wipe of local zoning based on the absurd notion that we need to provide enough additional housing for 10 to 13 million people in the City of Los Angeles. This ludicrous bill would allow the construction of huge apartment complexes within a quarter to a half mile of transit corridors, which could be a bus line which runs every 15 minutes during rush hour. 

Perhaps, we should run a bus line up Beachwood Canyon to the very top since some its residents told Judge Goodman that it was reasonable for Hollywood to have 400,000 people by the year 2030.  Of course, they intended other people’s homes in the Flats to be destroyed and not their fancy homes “above the gates.” 

(3) We Should Give developers $1.2 billion to build homes for poor people 

First -- the $1.2 billion will cost the tax payers about $2 billion. 

Second -- the dumbest place to build homes for poor people is near transit districts where land costs the most and where mixed-used projects’ construction costs are the highest. That’s like feeding the homeless by bussing them to the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and wondering why so few are fed. 

Third -- the $1.2 billion was not to construct housing for poor people but to subsidize billionaire developers constructing market rate housing. See Will Sunnyslope Bankruptcy Case Put the Brakes on LA’s Affordable Housing Scams?   

Fourth -- stop tearing down poor people’s homes. If the city had stopped the destruction of rent-controlled units when it first proposed measures HHH and JJJ, we’d have about 5,000 to 6,000 more rent-controlled units. Since the average household is 2.5 people, that is between 12,500 and 15,000 poor people who needlessly lost their homes. If the city had imposed a moratorium on the destruction, it would have prevented LA’s homeless population increasing by 23%. 

It is dumb to believe that the 23% surge in the city’s homeless is due to lack of construction and not due to the destruction of poor people’s homes. 

Don’t worry! Things can get worse and they will. We Angelenos still have no way to distinguish the dumb BS which is shoved at us every day since both the GOP and the Dems are masters at shoveling horse manure. Perhaps, the best thing we can each do is stop believing what the bigwigs at City Hall, Sacramento, the Courts, Washington D.C., etc. are telling us. We do know this: they tell us only what will benefit them.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.