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A theory on why people believe b.s.

This article contains real science and snide liberal commentary.

We all know first impressions matter, and are hard to overcome. That helps explain why people believe falsehoods despite all evidence to the contrary.

European researchers found a correlation between subjects’ cognitive ability and willingness to change their minds. Some people, the theory goes, are “more prone to mental clutter,” i.e., less able to discard outdated or discredited information.

This ability declines with age, suggesting older adults are especially vulnerable to “fake news.”

Cognitive ability also is highly correlated with education, which can help people develop “meta-cognitive skills,” i.e., strategies for monitoring and regulating their thinking.

Meanwhile, other research has shown that repeating a false claim increases its believability, creating an “illusion of truth,” and that even knowing the truth “doesn’t necessarily protect against the illusion of truth.”

For lazy people, it’s simpler and easier to attribute believing b.s. to stupidity. As in, “Republicans put stupidity on a pedestal and worship it.” (It sure seems that way sometimes.) However, if you want to read more about the scientific explanation, and how it ties into efforts to combat “fake news,” read this Scientific American article here.

Photos: Former GOP Rep. Michelle Bachmann (above right), and an example of cognitive training (below left). 

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  1. Mark Adams #
    1

    How does this theory work for places like North Korea? It generally is not scientific facts or applications this type of government turns into bs, just those the government has an interest in narrating the story, and one should be stupid in ones best hope to survive. Perhaps this stupidity is a survival ploy.

    What explains flat Earthers who are of many political stripes. Are they just messing with us? Do they truly believe? Their responses to science are inventive and may occasionally expand science. Scientists are sometimes lazy as well and forget they are supposed to be skeptical and challenge facts. Science says show us the body of bigfoot or bring us a live one and then it is fact, until then it is myth as is god, but you mat believe in either and science cannot disprove either, just prove, so beware of running in the woods in a big foot costume, it may get you shot.

  2. Roger Rabbit #
    2

    Keeping one’s head down, and shouting slogans on demand etc., is a well-established survival ploy. That happens not only in North Korea, but also in the Republican Party, home of flat earthers, climate deniers, QAnon believers, and 126 politicians who don’t need any evidence to insist Biden stole the election from Trump with fraudulent votes. The difference is that the people of North Korea are coerced, whereas Republicans do this voluntarily. That’s why their behavior, while appearing to be similar, requires a different explanation.



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