Tax $ at Work: NEH Gives $50,000 to Professor Who Warns 'Liberals Shouldn't Watch Fox News'

Liz Harrington at the Washington Free Beacon finds interesting line items in the budgets at the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Even under a Trump appointee, the NEH is still funding liberal researchers. 

Eric Mandelbaum, a philosophy professor at the City University of New York, will receive a $50,000 grant for "Propaganda and Belief in the Modern World,"  a book-length study on the "psychology of belief formation."

Mandelbaum coauthored a paper in 2015 entitled, "Believing Without Reason, or: Why Liberals Shouldn't Watch Fox News." In his beginning section, "Believing Badly," Mandelbaum expressed shock that about half of Americans believe in ghosts, and believing in God is another example that "people believe very odd things." 

"[Seventy-four percent] of American adults believe in God, 72 [percent] believe in miracles, 68 [percent] believe in heaven, 57 [percent] believe in the Virgin birth," the article states. "Thus more Americans believe that Jesus was born of a virgin than that humans are part of the phylogenetic tree."

"As of May 2014, 22-28 [percent] of Americans believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally word for word," Mandelbaum emphasizes.

"People hold shockingly irrational beliefs," he writes.

Merry Christmas, you shockingly irrational Jesus freaks.

The conspiracy theory that Mandelbaum unfurls is that the little "crawl" of text along the bottom of the Fox News screen can infernally, unconsciously persuade liberals they might be wrong about something: 

"The reluctant liberal Fox News viewer, then, will not merely unwillingly accept information (e.g.,) embedded in the crawl, but will integrate that information with other previously held beliefs," he continues. "And this information—these new beliefs—will not only be acquired in an evidence-less fashion, but they will be acquired from sources the viewer explicitly rejects as trustworthy sources. These beliefs will then be integrated into the subject's future decisions and attitudes, unbeknownst to her and despite her better judgment. If the Spinozan model is correct, this proliferation of belief without evidence is real and serious."

Mandelbaum adds that viewers are not safe, even if they tell themselves, "This report is not credible and I should reject it."

"[O]nce parsed and understood, the report lies ‘sleeping' in central cognition, stretching its inferential tentacles outward," he writes.

The professor doesn't seem to care whether conservatives might be persuaded out of their beliefs by watching large chunks of the liberal networks. 

On his own website, Mandelbaum describes his work on the acquisition of beliefs: "How can human beings, seemingly the smartest animals ever encountered, be so freaking dumb? We seem to acquire beliefs with the ease with which we catch colds, yet we also seem to learn nothing. How this is possible is a fun topic to examine, and will ensure your swear jar is full." 

PS: Then there’s the taxpayer-funded NEH research on the really important topics, like “Slouch: The Hidden History of America's Poor Posture Epidemic.” If that’s an epidemic, I’m infected. The project description is “Research and writing of a book on the rise and fall of the American poor posture epidemic in the 20th century and its impact on science, medicine, government, and industry.”

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