Still searching the Extinction Burst

On November 9, just hours after Trump won the presidential election, hits on a six-year-old Green Mountain Daily diary spiked. And it still continues. extinctstats3 The GMD diary by the late Julie Waters was called The Extinction Burst. It offered her thoughts on using the behavioral concept called the extinction burst in a political application as a template to respond to what then was the new and increasingly strident anti-Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Tea Party movement.

In psychological terms extinction refers to the process of no longer providing the reinforcement that has been maintaining a certain behavior. About an extinction burst Julie wrote: “You’ve got a child who is throwing tantrums.  In the past, the tantrums have gotten the child attention, which is exactly what the child wants.” To end this behavior cycle the tantrum should be ignored. And although there may be an increase — i.e.,  a burst of intensity — at the point where the tactic is no longer achieving the usual result,  the tantrum more often than not will end. Once the attention the child desired has been consistently and persistently withheld, the behavior cycle is broken and corrected. Or so the theory goes.

The problem Julie noted then (and it is even clearer now when applied to President Trump’s tantrums) is that some behavioral reinforcements happen without our participation and we can’t really control them — especially in politics. The following from the psychological definition is less than reassuring: Despite the name [Extinction Burst], not every explosive reaction to adverse stimuli subsides to extinction. Indeed a small minority of individuals persist in their reaction indefinitely.

I often check the GMD stats and they indicate the old diary isn’t going extinct; it is still getting regular hits. What does a steady flow of people searching out Extinction Burst on a political blog since Trump’s election indicate? I suppose people are still searching out coping strategies, or it could simply be the coincidental coupling of two Google search words extinction and burst suddenly becoming relevant .

By the way, other heavily searched words since Donald’s victory in November are “fascism,” “bigot” and “racism,” “socialism,” “resurgence,” “xenophobia” and “misogyny” among the most searched-for words. That is according to Merriam-Webster. But hey, what does she know?

oopcurseOne thing I do know is that Trump’s retrograde presidency is and will continue to be impossible to ignore.

[Ed. Note: We’re all thoroughly evolved here at GMD and are well aware dinosaurs and humans never walked the earth together-except in the funny papers and a taxpayer-funded Bible theme park in Kentucky,USA.]

One thought on “Still searching the Extinction Burst

  1. Great piece, BP!

    Fascinating about the Google searches. I just checked it out and there is Julie’s diary at the top of the algorithmic pile!

    ‘Makes me think Julie is still here with us in the fray.

    Also among the most searched phrases is “how to move to Canada.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *