Psychologists have offered one explanation: that valuing our identity more than our accuracy is what leads us to accept incorrect information that aligns with our chosen political party’s beliefs.
How do we determine what is true? What role do emotions play in our acquisition of knowledge?
In this clip from 2005, Stephen Colbert coins his phrase, “truthiness” which to some degree portended the coming of “fake news” and its pervasiveness a decade later.
Facts are believable and “true if they “feel” true. This also lends itself to a discussion of the role of emotion in the acquisition of knowledge.
“How easy is it to change people’s votes in an election?
“The answer, a growing number of studies conclude, is that most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.”
“Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive, wants to improve the national political debate with a treasure trove of facts about government. The post-truth age might not be so receptive.
“It’s an honorable idea. But facts alone are feeble things. Given more information, most people don’t change their minds, even when the new data seems to support the opposite argument. They convince themselves that the information is misleading (“alternative”) or simply wrong (“fake). They tune out stuff that’s uncomfortable to hear and tune in to cable news programs like reliably tell them that their intuition about the world is even more right than they knew. When most apocalyptic cults face irrefutable proof that they miscalculated the end of days, they don’t call it quits and return to their normal pre-doomsday lives.”
Why are people so reluctant to change their minds? This well-researched and well-presented cartoon delves into that very important question. It also helps elucidate the relationship between emotion and reason when our belief system is challenged.
“This doubling down in the face of conflicting evidence is a way of reducing the discomfort of dissonance, and is part of a set of behaviors known in the psychology literature as “motivated reasoning.” Motivated reasoning is how people convince themselves or remain convinced of what they want to believe—they seek out agreeable information and learn it more easily; and they avoid, ignore, devalue, forget, or argue against information that contradicts their beliefs.”