The age of Rorschach tests

This is an example of a Rorschach Test image:

Related image

In the movies, psychiatrists show their patients these and try to seek meaning in the answer to the question, “tell me what you see?”.

For the record, in this example I see Lord Lucan recreating the Marty McFly guitar solo part during the cover of Johnny B Goode in the film Easy Rider while Edward G Robinson waves a declaration of cooperation next to an airplane that had recently landed from his meeting with Chancellor Dido.

Some people see a butterfly.

I digress.

These strange situations where people report wildly different experiences when seeing or hearing the same situation are not as rare as one might think.

Recall the “viral” dress that was either blue and black or white and gold?

It’s not limited to visual experiences; here’s “yanni or laurel”.

It’s unsurprising then, to find these differences between our perception of reality elsewhere in life. Some examples we can find by simply watching the news;

– Some people believe there are only two genders and this situation is fixed by the facts of biology. On the other hand, some people believe there are more than two genders and a person can choose to transition between them with the help of surgery and hormones or simply by stating it verbally.

– Some people think it’s highly unlikely an individual or group of individuals can collect and analyse enough data to successfully manage to a national economy. Some other people disagree with this, despite 200 million dead bodies in the ground during the 20th century, and are certain the best three people to undertake this task are called Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.

Perhaps the pinnacle of this phenomenon of people having wildly divergent views of the same situation are the reactions to Donald Trump’s presidency.

The British have an expression that describes the differing reactions to Trump; like marmite.

Marmite is a salty yeast extract paste (similar to Vegemite in Australia). Nobody is ambivalent about its taste, you either love it or would rather chew your own fingernails off than eat it. A fact the marketing department used to their advantage a few years ago.

Similarly, I’ve yet to meet an American who metaphorically shrugs their shoulders and suggests Trump is neither terrible or the second coming of the Messiah.

Recently, I had a coffee with an American acquaintance and, towards the end of the meeting, she made a comment about how insane her home country was currently under the evil President.

Being an argumentative bugger, I thought I’d probe this opinion further, “ok, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but can you give me your three strongest reasons to persuade me he’s worse than any other previous president?

In order, here they are and the counter points I offered:

  1. He said the Nazis who murdered a woman in Charlottesville were “fine people”. – no, he didn’t. CNN selectivity edited the quote.
  2. He paid off a woman he had extra-marital sex with before he was president. – is that worse than getting the most junior staff member to give him oral sex in the Oval Office?
  3. He’s a dangerous warmonger. – perhaps, but pulling troops out of several current theatres of war and declining the option to bomb Iran suggests otherwise. He’s also running far behind the rate set by Obama.
  4. (She offered a 4th) He’s separating families at the Mexican border. – This has been policy for years and occurs until it can be ascertained the children are actually related to the adults and aren’t kidnapping victims.

Bills Opinion

It’s a difficult task to find a person who can express a nuanced view on President Trump, a view that suggests he’s neither the worst or the best holder of that office.


It’s my opinion that most people take their opinions verbatim from their selected news source.

Why aren’t the news sources presenting this nuance then? Perhaps it’s not in their interests.

The best explanation I’ve heard so far was expressed by Brett Weinstein on this podcast (go straight to the 1 hour mark and listen for about 4 minutes).

It’s an interesting theory that everyone knows the ideas of the last 10 years are insane but it’s not in anyone’s interests to say so publicly, so the madness remains. Weinstein articulates this far better than I, though.

In the meantime, my pronouns are zhe, zher and zhers:

13 Replies to “The age of Rorschach tests”

  1. To my way of thinking its another reason why a single party state would eliminate all of the continuous Punch & Judy show antics, which is deliberate, this strategy of tension keeps us worried and running around like headless chooks. If it were a single party system then the discourse would be around what we want more of and less off from the state and we would also recognise that yes, their is an elite, rather than partisan smoke screens keeping our eye of the ball.

    The Brits are just as bad, they chucked Red Ken out of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn stands accused of being a foaming at the mouth anti-semite, if you tell a large enough porkie and keep repeating it and all that.

  2. I think choice of pronouns is a great idea. I never had that option. Everybody just calls me “Hey you!”

  3. There have been several other black/yellow dress incidents in the last few years. There was the video of the ‘assault’ on a Breitbart journo that everybody saw differently, the results of the Mueller report that two sides interpreted in opposite ways, and there are two incompatible views on who was really corrupt in their dealings with Ukraine, Trump or Biden. Oh, and about who is causing violence at rallies.
    It is as though the US is not just split politically, but that the two sides have different perceptions of the universe. Like the yellow/gold dress, each side thinks the other must be winding them up.

    1. I just found “Test #9” in spam too.

      It’s probably my fault; I’ve been having issues where I’ve been blocked from getting in to the admin section, resolved by using a VPN to spoof another country.

      I’ll have time to investigate later today.

  4. Don’t forget the biggest one out there: some look at prominent climate projections and see self-inflicted doom for the earth and others see yet another power grab from the world’s elite. Others still smell a fresh business opportunity.

    1. Quite.

      I have a rule of thumb; if someone makes a statement requiring an economic impact to fight climate change but doesn’t mention generation 4 nuclear energy, even after having it explained, I write them off as a Malthusian psychopath.

  5. Well, I’m an American who was against him in the primary, pissed off at him during the race because I thought he’d doomed us to 8 bloody years of Felonia von Pantsuit, and now am fair-to-middlin’ on his performance. I do admit that you’d have needed a pipe wrench to wipe the smile off my face after I found out Hillary had lost, again, and would probably never be President. Yep, that was a good few minutes.

    As to the two views of the same event I’m waiting for it to occur in the Harry Dunn case. The young man riding a motorcycle and killed in a collision with a car driven by an American who subsequently left the UK under diplomatic immunity.

    It would seem open and shut. He was hit by someone said to be driving on the wrong side of the road who scarpers immediately thereafter. Doesn’t look good for the car driver, the UK isn’t exactly Japan – where the foreigner is always guilty, because – foreign.

    The problem is the family of the victim just seems ‘off’. The mother is constantly throwing herself into the limelight and doesn’t really seem to be as broken up as I’d be were it my child*. Now they’re flying to America to confront the driver of the car. What? Who’s funding that and who advised them that it was a good idea?

    I’d like to know the truth but I honestly don’t think it will ever emerge from the tsunami of PR krep that’s covered the story to date. I think this is going to come down on nationalistic lines, Brits = guilty, Americans (the ones who ever find out about it) = not guilty.

    *I know that the ‘Dingo’s ate my baby’ woman was convicted partly because she didn’t *seem* sufficiently heartbroken so I realise I may be off-base on this point.

    1. I’ve not seen his parents being interviewed, but, Prima Facie, doing a runner using diplomatic immunity (“Meester Riggs”) is a terrible look.

      There’s a long history of USA diplomats testing our patience; I recall there being a massive unpaid parking ticket bill for their London-based staff because “parking tickets are taxes and the Geneva Convention says diplomats don’t pay foreign taxes”. Okaaaay.

    1. Either way, it’s going to be great fun watching the various factions of MPs grapple with the concept of doing their fucking job, for a change.

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