We all like to think that we make rational, sound decisions based on our own quality judgment. We roll on with life, evaluate the facts we see in front of us, and act accordingly.
Sadly, we’re wrong.
The reality is that our decisions are manipulated by our personal, emotional investments that accumulate over time. The more you emotionally invest in something, the harder it is for you to then abandon it. We make irrational decisions based on our aversion to loss.
This is called the “sunk cost fallacy.”
Let’s say you invest $1,000 in a stock that you had hopes for a big return on. Instead of a big return, over the next month it loses half of its value, and it is now worth $500. The company no longer looks like a good investment, and it is very unlikely you’ll ever get your money back. You should sell now before the value drops more and you lose more money.
But you don’t.
You don’t want to lose that $500. You want to believe it will turn around and you can get some or all of your money back.
It doesn’t. The company folds. You lose everything.
This applies to much more than investing. It applies to virtually everything in our lives.
A couple months ago, I had picked up a book that was highly recommended by a friend. In the first 50 pages, I had already judged the book, and I hated it. But I soldiered on, convinced that it might get better. By the time I got halfway through, after spending more than 15 hours reading it, I not only hated the book, but I hated the author for writing it. I hated his editor for having anything to do with it, and I hated his publisher for actually printing it. I loathed virtually everything about this dumpster fire.
I finished the book.
I said what we have all said at some point. “Well, I got this far, I would’ve just wasted all that time if I didn’t finish it.”
This is why people stay in the movie theater while watching an awful movie that they hate. “Well, I paid for the ticket,” they say to themselves, “I sat here for more than an hour. If I walk out now, it is just a waste.”
At a certain point we feel that we have sunk so much of ourselves in something, that we simply can’t abandon it. We can’t walk away.
So it isn’t a surprise to have watched, for the past two years, the same dynamic play out as it relates to President Donald Trump, and the accusation of Russian collusion.
The idea that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election was always a sensationalist notion that was unlikely to be based in much reality.
But knowledge that Russia had attempted to influence the election combined with liberal hatred of Trump himself built a narrative in the heads of nearly all of the American left.
Every day that went by, the belief got stronger. Trump would tweet something that triggered them, or do something they hated. Personal dislike of the man meant that it was easier to believe he was an evil agent of the Russian government.
Speculation grew, in many instances, into outright invention. Reality was twisted and warped to fit a narrative. That twisted reality led to outlandish accusations, my favorite of which was Jonathan Chait, writing in New York Magazine, that Trump may have been a deep cover Russian agent since 1987.
And at every step of the way, more and more people became more and more invested, personally and emotionally, in the notion that there was collusion.
But now, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report to the Department of Justice, and that report states, according to the attorney general, that Mueller and his team “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Uh oh. That’s a lot of sunk cost.
Too much, it seems, for many on the left. They can’t go back now. They’re all in, and to admit that they lost their objectivity and their collective reason along the way, desperately trying to invent a reality that didn’t exist would be tantamount to self-rejection.
They’re not going to do that. And so Rep. Adam Schiff continues, despite the report, to claim that collusion existed. And so liberal host Rachel Maddow continues to obsess over not only collusion, but also supposed obstruction of justice.
It will never end. They’ve so defined themselves according to this narrative that they just won’t be able to let it go. They’re going to finish the book, no matter what.