The essential question is: why do people believe in their conclusions? Partly because people we love and trust believe in the same conclusion. Kahneman calls it "emotionally coherent". It’s psychologically coherent, but not in the sense that it provides solid evidence. Voting, he says, is emotionally driven and one of the most powerful emotions is anger. It leads people to seek out an enemy.
Kahneman shares the story of his childhood in Paris, where he grew up as a jewish boy in World War II. "I’d gone out to play with a friend and I had my sweater with my star on it," he says. He’d turned it inside out, so no one would see it. "I saw a German soldier in a black uniform, and I knew that those were absolutely the worst. We walked towards each other and then he called me."Even decades later, the experience is clearly emoitional. "I was afraid that he would see the star inside the sweater, but he didn’t. He hugged me and showed me pictures of a little boy. And he actually gave me some money."
Both went their separate ways, but the significance remains to this day. "It showed the complexity of people. He would have killed me easily, but in that context he was just a father of a little boy."
Referring to anti-Muslim tendencies in our present society, Kahneman knows that society has no historical memory. Both populists and terrorists use powerful emotional triggers; they address people’s fear and direct their anger towards the unknown stranger. "That’s very easy to believe. And it’s very effective."