How Facts Backfire

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Lisa Simeone, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I would like to post this in the Aviation Safety and Security Checkpoint Screening and Abuse in the USA forum, just because I think that one gets more eyeballs, but maybe I'll settle for reposting the gist of it in every thread I can think of. Because the issue of presenting facts and rational argument has come up repeatedly at TUG and will continue to. Paraphrasing one member, I forget who, recently: "most people are smart; when presented with the facts, they'll get it."

    Not only have I always thought that was hopelessly sanguine, and not only has my own experience presenting facts for the past 19 months proved otherwise, but here's a July article from the Boston Globe that presents some depressing facts of its own:

    How facts backfire

    Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains

    On the limits of reason, and the power of slapping someone in the face metaphorically -- something else we have discussed endlessly:
    I'm reminded of a certain Baltimore Sun reporter, whom you all have heard me quote several times, who asked me explicitly for facts in an email last year, then when I replied saying, 'coming right up', wrote me back immediately saying, 'It doesn't matter; I don't care.' I have this in writing.

    This is what we're up against.
  2. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    I don't find this information at all surprising. Most people don't want to acknowledge that they were wrong. It's about self-esteem or saving face. They become more entrenched hoping that doing so will somehow or another magically make their position correct.

    One. grope. at. a. time.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  3. VH-RMD

    VH-RMD Original Member

    just look at godbotherers, they have been proving this very fact for years...
  4. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

  5. myadvice

    myadvice Original Member

    I'm reminded of a Zogby poll in 2008 that found that 87 percent of those polled believed that it was Sarah Palin who made the comment, "I can see Russia from my house", which was actually said by Tina Fey in a Saturday Night Live skit.

    I think there is more to it than that. In today's too-many-choices world, people have grown lazy and read, watch, and accept only those sources that have the pre-ordained spin that fits in with their underlying political philosophy. Few actually take the time to read the original sources; which often tell a different story. Even fewer take the time to try to research and understand any issue in depth. All that seems to be important is that they know the political talking points of "their" side so they can repeat them ad-nausum. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is marginalized with pejoratives rather than debated.
  6. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Tina Fey riffed on something that Sarah Palin actually did say:

    And later:

    "It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where - where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border," she said.

    Otherwise, re your second paragraph, all true. It's something all of us, being human, have to guard against. (But one has to be aware of it before one can guard against it, and that's something that people all over the political spectrum don't necessarily want to admit.)
  7. myadvice

    myadvice Original Member

    True, it was based on something she said (most parodies are). But it was not what she said. Yet it was repeated ad-nausuam and accepted by people as words which came out of her mouth.

    And I'm not saying this just happens to people on the right either. Words get twisted for folks on the left too.
  8. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

  9. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    It would be moved here -- best to place it where it belongs from the start.

    The only reason the Shoshana Hebshi thread (which has absolutely nothing to do with checkpoint security) is still there is because it is way too active to move, plus it got me so ticked off when I read that it didn't occur to me until the next day that it was in the wrong place.
  10. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    Interesting article, Lisa. I think when you throw in the idea that some people tend to seek out drama in their life, such as fear of terrorism, it seals the deal.

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