• 07.20.16

Baffled by the totally bananas 2016 election? Science is here to help

If you happened to be watching live as a Muslim businessman led a prayer for Donald Trump at the RNC last night to Islamophobic jeers and you wondered silently to yourself just how it was that we got here, this brain scientist has an explanation.

While hardly comprehensive, it comes down in large measure to the psychological principle of “loss aversion,” which increases our tolerance for risk when we consider doing nothing to be a loss all by itself.

More than two-thirds of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Nearly 60% of Brits said the same of the U.K. on the even of the Brexit vote. Yet just last month, Clinton called Trump too risky for America:

We cannot put the safety of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands. We cannot let him roll the dice with America.

But for anybody who believes the status quo is unacceptable—and there are lots who do, from Sanders’s backers on the left to Trump’s on the right—”this approach may fall on deaf ears,” science writer Bob Nease explains. “To them, such a risk isn’t as off-putting as Clinton might think.”RB