Claims like Trump is evil or insane, or that his supporters are dumb and ignorant are divisive and designed to enable left-wing intellectuals like myself to ignore the real reasons why the likes of Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson have so many supporters. This kind of name calling deliberately mythologises real human beings who have real issues. In academic terms, this is called Othering, i.e. making them into the Others—not us. It is in part about defining who we are by pointing out who we are not, but it also makes the Others kind of unreal. Once we’ve achieved that, we don’t have to deal with them because we’ve moved them outside of our own sphere and for our own safety we keep them there. This is how patriarchy has worked for thousands of years—it Othered women.
A friend, for whom I have great respect, recently shared an article titled Are Trump Supporters Too Dumb To Know They’re Dumb? Science Says “Probably”. I respect her for her intelligence, diligence in research and her compassion. I say this in part because I’m about to attack the article that she shared but also because, like so many people, I consider myself intelligent, informed and compassionate and yet I have also engaged in the type marginalising found in this article. I could say that I have been racist and discriminatory towards these Trump supporters who we think of as racist and discriminatory. In other words, in spite of my self-presumption of intelligence, education and compassion, I have behaved like a Trump supporter. I have to consider the possibility that I am also subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The quick version of that article by Rika Christensen is that Trump supporters suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is basically a scientific way of saying that there are some things that people don’t know that they don’t know. The article uses this to explain the ‘dumb’ of Trump supporters.