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Yesterday Donald Trump tweeted about the upcoming fall 2016 presidential debate calendar between him and Hillary Clinton:

As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!

Despite the apparent fact that, according to CNN:

In fact, the fall debate schedule was determined almost a year ago by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, a private group made up of both Republicans and Democrats.

...

The commission responded to Trump on Saturday afternoon by saying that it "announced the number, dates and sites for the 2016 general election debates in September 2015." "The CPD did not consult with any political parties or campaigns in making these decisions," the group said.

What CNN says is corroborated by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) website:

The CPD is an independent organization. It is not controlled by any political party or outside organization and it does not endorse, support or oppose political candidates or parties. It receives no funding from the government or any political party, political action committee or candidate.

Commission On Presidential Debates announces sites and dates for 2016 general election debates - Sep 23, 2015

I have to imagine that Trump (or someone in his campaign) knew that Clinton could have had no involvement in choosing the debate schedule (unless there's some heretofore unheard of conspiracy theory). Yet Trump still plainly said Clinton is "trying to rig the debates".

What's a word (or term) for someone who, like Trump in this example, propounds a point despite all basic rational evidence against it?

I was thinking demagogue:

a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

And while discrediting Clinton is a popular desire, discrediting her on the relatively insignificant issue of debate scheduling is probably not what most people really care about (i.e. it's not popular).

Willful ignorance also might work, but I have a very hard time believing people in Trump's campaign willfully believe that Hillary chose the debate times. Maybe they want their supporters to believe that but no presidential campaign could be that oblivious.

I guess I'm looking for a mix of the two.

(Sorry for all the politics here. This debate example really did get me thinking about this question so I used it. For the record I think Trump's criticism of having the debates on football days is legitimate (though perhaps overdue), just his blaming Clinton defies rationality.)

12 Answers 12

8

Perhaps a propagandist!

From MW dictionary:

Simple Definition of propaganda : ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.

propagandist: noun or adjective

More from Wikipedia:

"Propaganda" is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicise a particular political cause or point of view. Propaganda is often associated with the psychological mechanisms of influencing and altering the attitude of a population toward a specific cause, position or political agenda in an effort to form a consensus to a standard set of belief patterns.1

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.

Propagandists frequently argue their point by claiming that the other side is attempting to take away your control. For example, Republicans frequently claim that Democrats are attempting to control you by imposing big government on your private life and take away your spending power by imposing higher taxes while Democrats frequently argue that they are reining in big corporations that are attempting to influence elections with money, power and take away your job, health etc. ... According to bipartisan analysis, these claims are frequently untrue.

6

I would call such a person a mythomaniac:

American Heritage dictionary

[a person who has] a compulsion to embroider the truth, engage in exaggeration, or tell lies


Or for the particular example that you gave:

mudslinger

Merriam-Webster

: one that makes malicious attacks especially against a political opponent


pseudologist

dictionary.com

  1. lying considered as an art.

3

Making things up, lying, misdirecting, mistakenly attributing, and bullshitting are variously used in different situations for actions such as these. The person who does them can be called confused (very charitable), mistaken, a liar, etc. We will likely see all of these a lot more during the 2016 U.S. election season. (Here is an article ruminating on just why this particular tweet was sent.)

2

You might use something like "tunnel vision" for a slightly more sincere person - it implies that they keep repeating the same point because they can't see or don't believe evidence against their pet theory, rather than because they know it's false and want to convince people otherwise.

Tunnel vision, as a metaphor, denotes the reluctance to consider alternatives to one's preferred line of thought; this could include physicians treating afflictions, detectives considering crime suspects, or anyone predisposed to a favored outcome. - quoted from wikipedia.org

Such person might "have blinders on" (implying the stance they took is preventing them from looking around for other evidence). Or they might "be blinkered", which comes from the same source - originally screens used to keep horses from looking around or being spooked by other happenings nearby.

To have blinders on - to not be able to recognize or accept what is happening around you. Etymology: based on the literal meaning of blinders (pieces of material attached next to a horse's eyes to keep it from seeing anything on either side) - quoted from idioms.thefreedictionary.com

blinkered (ˈblɪŋkəd) 1. considering only a narrow point of view 2. (Horse Training, Riding & Manège) (of a horse) wearing blinkers

This person might also be described as hyper-focused on their point, or irrational, or obsessed. Any terms like that.

I realize this is a more generous interpretation of such people than your request implies - since these terms assume that the person is wrong, but might genuinely believe their point. However, I think actual evidence against something is not necessarily a barrier to people believing it

1

Using delusional or deluded might be appropriate.

The issue specific to Donald Trump is it’s almost impossible to understand any of the motivation to his behavior. For all any of us knows, he really believes what says and does is true; that is what is really scary about him.

1

I'd say this is a really bad case of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one's pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

Please do not call this stupid. If you repeat stuff that people want to hear often enough, it WILL be believed. All politicians do it in some degree. Trump is a master of the game.

He is actually saying 'I am up against a rigged system'. Denying will make him ever more right...

In the end you may call such a person a populist.

A person who supports or seeks to appeal to the concerns of ordinary people:
she is something of a populist—her views on immigration resemble those of the right-wing tabloid press

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/populist

1

Trump is making deceptive and misleading statements. One might call him dishonest for his repeated use of half-truths, unsubstantiated claims and bogus insinuations to consolidate emotional support for his political campaign.

In politics, this is in line with a strong political tradition (Andrew Jackson was once accused of being a cannibal) called mudslinging in which candidates attempt to smear each other with outlandish statements in order to rile voters. Politicians have long known that if you say something that sounds like it could be true, you can, without much effort, reinforce resentment against your opponent.

0

One term for what you are pointing to would be "dissemble," if your point is that the campaign or Trump himself knows the truth, or even just understands that the overwhelming weight of opinion and any rational assessment of the evidence is against him, but is going on anyway.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/dissemble

verb (used with object), dissembled, dissembling. 1. to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of: to dissemble one's incompetence in business. 2. to put on the appearance of; feign: to dissemble innocence. 3. Obsolete. to let pass unnoticed; ignore. verb (used without object), dissembled, dissembling. 4. to conceal one's true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically.

However, the term might strike some as obscure or precious, compared to the more common if less precise or specific "liar," "hypocrite," "phony," "con man," "faker," etc. "Phony" is a good, old American word - possibly signifying "all sound, no substance" - and, once upon a time, the ability to spot one was considered a particular American virtue.

0

Invincible ignorance is probably the more appropriate form of that phrase rather than "willful".

The invincible ignorance fallacy1 is a deductive fallacy of circularity where the person in question simply pig-headedly refuses to believe the argument, ignoring any evidence given. It is not so much a fallacious tactic in argument as it is a refusal to argue in the proper sense of the word, the method instead being to either make assertions with no consideration of objections or to simply dismiss objections by calling them excuses, conjecture, etc. or saying that they don't prove anything; all without actually demonstrating how the objection fit these terms (see ad lapidem fallacy).

0

While 'misinformant' is technically a word, it's so rarely used that is sounds incorrect, and considering that language is largely based on recognition and usage, it almost is incorrect. I probably wouldn't use it unless I meant to draw attention to it for comedic purposes. You could instead use "a faulty lead," "Slanderous," or "Silver tongue" (depending on the context).

0

How about propagandist or rumormonger?

From M-W:

propaganda: ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.

rumormonger: a person who spreads rumors

rumor: information or a story that is passed from person to person but has not been proven to be true

A propagandist is one who spreads propaganda.

While rumors or not necessarily "misinformation", they often are. That is, people often spread rumors as if they are true, without their having been proven to be true. That one could characterize as a form of "misinformation".

0

sciolist
noun (archaic)
A person who pretends to be knowledgeable and well informed.
- Oxford

protected by tchrist Feb 5 '17 at 0:18

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