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This certainly matches my observations lately…

From the Globe and Mail’s Facts and Arguments Section’s Social Studies by Michael Kesterton (July 15, 2010 page L6)

Facts Versus Arguments

“”Recently, a few political scientists have begun nto discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information,” Joe Keohane writes for teh Boston Globe. “It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actualy make misinformation even stronger.””

Wow! Can’t say that I haven’t seen this in action. Watching television political talk shows lately and visiting summer BBQ’s when topics like BP oil spills, global warming, politics of any stripe, it seems clear that some people just don’t need facts to have a strong opinion.

It’s even more worrisome when they’re librarians!


Posted on: July 16, 2010, 6:28 pm Category: Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Wendy Newman said

    Indeed. Look no farther than the issue of long form census in this country. The media characterization of any change of mind in public life, no matter how well informed or warranted, as a “flip flop” and a sign of weakness hasn’t helped.

  2. I’ve learned not to bang my head against the wall on this. When I’ve given people “facts,” or “stats” to uphold facts, and they are in contrary to the person’s belief, they are shrugged off as “misrepresentations.” They counter with, “You can make facts/stats say anything.” See, when you ridicule something you discredit it, and when you discredit it then you psychologically give your own opinions/facts more credibility even if they are erroneous. Political talk show hosts as well as politicians do this all the time. It’s quite childish ‘school-yard’ stuff, and they know that their message will carry the day. The erroneous messages can inflame and be front page stuff or headline a talk-show, but the correction is usually found on bottom corner of page 12B, or a 20 second spot just before a commercial break.

  3. The media characterization of any change of mind in public life, no matter how well informed or warranted,