Parataxic Distortion

Hello. Sorry to start with a technical term, but it really is a point of order for the discussion.

“Parataxic Distortion” is a high-falutin’ term for when we pigeonhole people due to a small amount of information we know about them. It is one of many “cognitive distortions” that can pollute clear thinking.

For example, someone might express some factoid about their political will, such as “I voted for Obama”. In today’s polarized society, many folks will extrapolate an entire mindset of the person from that one admission. Some may even go as far as to just write the person off as a “dad-blurned LIB’RUL!”, not understanding that there is a multi-dimensional spectrum of political thought that people can subscribe to.

I’ll explain how that works. I voted for Obama during his presidential elections. I strongly support the U.S. Constitution, as well as its source document, the Declaration of Independence. To me, the Bill of Rights is sacred — and I don’t mean part of it, but all of it. So I fiercely defend rights protected by the First Amendment. I also am just as fierce defending rights protected by the Second Amendment. And so on down the line.

If someone were tending toward extremism, they might have thinking so polarized that they can’t conceive of a “LIB’RUL!” who defends the Second Amendment. But in point of fact, this is very common — moderate liberals just don’t get weird about it.

So that about covers “parataxic distortion”. But there is more to it than just identifying someone’s political leanings — it can be applied to groups, causing further distortions in thinking.

One such “group” are the anti-fascists. Actually, this isn’t a “group”, but a movement — like feminism, or skaters. Dear Leader and his cronies have expressed the idea that the anti-fascists — which they call “antifa” — are a “terrorist organization”. But — like Anonymous — there is no “organization” there, it is just a movement. And there is more parataxic distortion when considering just who is responsible for the property damage and looting in the current demonstrations.

Folks take a shortcut in thinking and assume the troublemakers are the scarily-named “antifa”, when in fact, there is considerable evidence that we have more to fear from alt.right organizations. These organizations include the so-called “boogaloo boys”, as well as the “proud boys”. Presenting the evidence of that will be the topic of my next post.

One thought on “Parataxic Distortion”

  • Really good. Antifa was around when I was doing activism in the 90s. No one knew who they were or cared. But worldwide, activists have been standing up against fascism (Nazis) since fascism became popular. I am anti-fascist.

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