Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.
July 15, 2011 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Why do people believe something even after it's been proven false? A new study confirms that "the effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated even after it's been corrected."

According to researchers at the University of Western Australia, this effect -- the "continued influence effect of misinformation" -- occurs even if a retraction is issued, understood, believed, and remembered.

The experiment itself sounds like an instruction set for propagandists: "Repetition was used to more strongly encode the misinformation. Cognitive loading, when attention is divided between two tasks, was used to weaken or dilute the messages."

See also: "The Big Lie"
posted by zooropa (73 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think you mean "believe" and not "refuse to believe"
posted by LogicalDash at 6:54 AM on July 15, 2011


I refuse to believe things all the time that have been proven false; I didn't know this was a problem!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oy! Thanks, LogicalDash. Sorry, I can't edit the post.
posted by zooropa at 6:57 AM on July 15, 2011


Ecker says this effect, known as 'continued influence effect of misinformation',

Or as I like to call it, Crazy Emails from That One Uncle Syndrome.
posted by Tavern at 6:57 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is the very definition of 'truthiness': something false that fits neatly into your preconceptions, so that even after it's shown to be false, you still kinda believe it.
posted by unSane at 7:01 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I refuse to stop not believing that this doesn't not occur.
posted by The Bellman at 7:03 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I refuse to stop not believing that this doesn't not occur.

NOT!
posted by palbo at 7:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oy! Thanks, LogicalDash. Sorry, I can't edit the post.

I still believe what you said the first time.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:07 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


pdf of the paper from Ecker's webpage at UWA.
posted by nangar at 7:10 AM on July 15, 2011


[Fixed. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:15 AM on July 15, 2011


I got a spectacular first-hand experience with this effect when trying to debunk an associates fervent belief that Obama invented and instituted the 'mandatory backscatter scanning' of the TSA. After providing the machine's timeline and pointing out that Bush was responsible for the push back in 2002, and actively aware people were pissed about it back then. "Well, Bush may have 'pushed' for it, but Obama made it happen!" Well, no, the machines were being installed back in 2007 onward. Look at the facts. "Obama made the scanner mandatory!" No, Obama provided an out with a physical patdown, which previously wasn't an option. He made the scanners the OPPOSITE of mandatory.

It was fascinating to watch someone go get the forklift in order to facilitate rapid and convenient moving of the goalposts.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:17 AM on July 15, 2011 [33 favorites]


So THIS is why we're all screwed!
posted by 3FLryan at 7:19 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


...even after it's shown to be false, you still kinda believe it.

Yeah! Invade Iraq again!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on July 15, 2011


This is one of the reasons why people in this country continue to vote against their own economic and long term interests. Creating illusions about an issue or policitcal enemy has become a central strategy in American politics--and refined to a science by some. The current tea party phenomenom is an excellent example.
posted by Sparkticus at 7:23 AM on July 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


This must be the basis for the sayings: "You can't knock a sucker" and "Never smarten up a chump."
posted by warbaby at 7:24 AM on July 15, 2011


...even after it's shown to be false, you still kinda believe it.

News International's defence strategy in a nutshell.
posted by ob at 7:25 AM on July 15, 2011


I know this has nothing to do with anything, but did the designers of the Family Radio rapture billboard pictured in the post's main link (here's a clearer picture from another source, but it's the same image) have any idea what the man pictured on the billboard appears to be doing (hint: it's not praying). My inner sixth-grader hasn't been able to stop laughing for the past five minutes.
posted by jhandey at 7:25 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


What would be an interesting follow-up study would be to take people who were better at/more willing to change their minds and see what they had in common and what could be done to encourage those attributes.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:26 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Cry mightily unto God", indeed... sorry for the derail, carry on.
posted by jhandey at 7:26 AM on July 15, 2011


It doesn't help that the huge headline splashes over the front page and the "retraction" is in the small print in the classifieds. But another thing is, and this has been difficult for me, is that you have to be willing to speak out against that misinformation the next time you see it.

My own case in point is that there was a claim going around that people in SUVs and trucks get into way more fatal accidents than people in sedans or sports cars, which was then used to argue that big trucks and SUVs are more dangerous. The reasons behind these numbers were a little fuzzy, something involving mass and rollovers and whatever, but I and many of my friends put stock in it. Particularly my cyclist friends because hey, big truck scary.

But then a friend of mine pointed out correctly that all that meant was that there were more trucks and SUVs on the road, not that they were any more dangerous. So we went and looked up all the actuarial tables we could find and lo and behold, when you look at stuff in terms of accidents per miles driven, the usual suspects are exactly who you'd expect: sports cars, typically driven by young men.

So, I think of myself as a scientist, but maybe more importantly I think that I'm obligated to bear witness to the truth, whether I agree with or like what I'm seeing or not, and when I see people passing on myths like that I try, without being a jerk, just to say that while many people still think that, it's incorrect.

I suppose it's all I can do.
posted by mhoye at 7:27 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Having this issue right now with a family friend who refuses to vaccinate her children. Even after reading and claiming to understand the fact that Wakefield committed fraud regarding the autism-vaccine link, she still refuses on the grounds that "what if he was right all along".

Makes me wonder what stupidity I continue to believe in despite evidence to the contrary.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:28 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The title of this post is "The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it"; but it looks to me like the article and the paper aren't saying that? They talk about strength of encoding and the strength and vigor of retractions, but Ecker isn't saying anything about the type or qualities of the misinformation affecting how it's remembered, is he?
posted by XMLicious at 7:28 AM on July 15, 2011


The real Big Lie is that most people's beliefs have the slightest connection to reason. For almost everybody, reason serves to rationalize their existing beliefs, not to correct them. Offer evidence that contradicts their beliefs and watch how they use reason to try to maintain them anyway. As FatherDragon pointed out, you can really watch it in action.

There's a reason the scientific method was such a turning point for humanity.
posted by callmejay at 7:30 AM on July 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


Ecker (the lead author) has published some other research along the same lines:

Terrorists brought down the plane!—No, actually it was a technical fault [pdf]

Explicit warnings reduce but do not eliminate the continued influence of misinformation. [pdf]

He's also got a copy of an interview he did on ABC-1 TV about his misinformation research:
"this is the 'uncensored' version including some remarks on climate change that ABC chose to remove from the version aired in Perth."
(I haven't read or listened to any of this yet.)
posted by nangar at 7:38 AM on July 15, 2011


Disagree with the wording. A retraction isn't a correction. Correcting a misconception in your mind doesn't mean changing a single belief; it means modifying a whole chain of beliefs which may not be obviously related. And that is cognitively very expensive. So change is hard, and it seems to me this work is just a specific, concrete demonstration of that.
posted by polymodus at 7:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Believers gotta believe.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:47 AM on July 15, 2011


It doesn't help that the huge headline splashes over the front page and the "retraction" is in the small print in the classifieds. But another thing is, and this has been difficult for me, is that you have to be willing to speak out against that misinformation the next time you see it.

That's sort of the point. Studies have shown that even sitting down with someone face-to-face not only usually doesn't correct bad information, it can actually reinforce it.

One of the most maddening conversations I ever listened to was an exchange on "This American Life" between a scientist and a young woman who calls herself a climate change "skeptic". The young woman offered up all of her challenges to global warming, and one by one, the scientist answered them. The "skeptic" had no rebuttals for any of these answers, either. After it was done, Ira Glass asked her if she's changed her mind now. She said no, it wasn't enough.

What would it take to change your mind, he asked. Complete and total agreement by everybody that it's true, was essentially her answer. Not total agreement by scientists, but by everyone who speaks publicly on the issue.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:52 AM on July 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


FamilyRadio.com: Brought to you by people who still believe terrestrial radio still exists as a viable means of communication.
posted by obscurator at 7:56 AM on July 15, 2011


Weird how easily memories can be distorted or altogether changed in our minds, but beliefs are so much harder to shake.
posted by orme at 8:12 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


One reason is because there are emotional and social connections to belief that sometimes have ramifications are dificult to immediate dismiss.

In logic, it's called cogency. If an argument is valid, it follows the rules of logic, despite the truth of the premises. If the premises are true and it follows the rules of logic, it is also sound. The cogency requirement is often missed. That is, even if I find an argument to be sound, at least initially, but it also requires for me to give up other firmly held beliefs that I believe to be true (because they conflict with each other), what then? Instead of dismantling an entire belief system, or other related beliefs, immediately -- especially if those beliefs have social and emotional ramifications -- people will often hold beliefs in tension, rather than giving them up at face value.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:15 AM on July 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


Speaking of misinformation, "The Big Lie" wasn't Hitler explaining how the Nazi's operated, but Hitler explaining how the Jews operated. It's an antisemitic concept, and I wish people would stop using it.
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not an anti-semitic concept per se: it was an anti-semitic concept as expressed by Hitler. Goebbels used it to describe the British and the OSS report on Hitler used it to describe Hitler's tactics. Since then it's been used by anyone and everyone.
posted by unSane at 8:32 AM on July 15, 2011



"Here is a recent (July 12, 2011) ABC-1 TV interview on our research on misinformation (this is the 'uncensored' version including some remarks on climate change that ABC chose to remove from the version aired in Perth)."
posted by hank at 8:35 AM on July 15, 2011


I don't care what you say. My dog totally talks to me.

:)
posted by stormpooper at 8:35 AM on July 15, 2011


Makes me wonder what stupidity I continue to believe in despite evidence to the contrary.

This is a feature of my mental landscape that haunts me constantly. I'm always wondering if some faithfully believed "fact" is going to turn out to be bullshit, and I'm going to have to spend years explaining that, "Yes, for 35 years, I believed that Napoleon was really short" or something.

Currently, I'm questioning the accuracy of the whole "We need to breathe to survive" mythos. As of three minutes I've suspended all respiratory functions and we'll see what happ...

...

Whoa! So that's what it's like to black out from holding your breath.

Ok, I can verify the reality of that one! Breathing to live? Confirmed!
posted by quin at 8:40 AM on July 15, 2011


Creating illusions about an issue or policitcal enemy has become a central strategy in American politics--and refined to a science by some. The current tea party phenomenom is an excellent example.

see also: previously
posted by elizardbits at 8:49 AM on July 15, 2011


My dad taught me a lesson that I think applies perfectly here. Once you understand this lesson, everything else falls into place. Three simple words:

People are stupid.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:55 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Letter to the editor: I would like you to issue a retraction due to a misattributed source. A line was quoted as the statement of a MeFi user FatherDragon, however no such user exists. However, a very similar username FatherDagon *was* noted as making that same statement, it could be that he was the intended source of the quote.

Let's see if this de-enforces the public belief that there are two Rs in my username.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's hard to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair
posted by any major dude at 8:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Canadian Election

L: "Some of your representatives broke campaign finance regulations"

C: "You're a reckless coalition. Canadians don't want an election."


L: "You lied about the budget and spent a gajillion dollars on planes"

C: "Are you trying to force an election? Canadians don't want an election, you reckless coalition!"


L: "You spent $50 million on a bunch of crap in Tony Clement's riding that was earmarked for the G8/G20 Summit"

C: "That sounds like election talk. I thought I was clear, reckless coalition. Canandians don't want one of those."


L: "Lies! Crooks! Widespread corruption! Contempt of Parliament!"

C: "Reckless! Coalition! Election! Do Not Want!"
posted by Hoopo at 9:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I deal with this all the time. The concept of "First News, Best News" is very hard to shake, because you can't use reason to dislodge an idea that wasn't put there by reason.
posted by scruss at 9:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of misinformation, "The Big Lie" wasn't Hitler explaining how the Nazi's operated, but Hitler explaining how the Jews operated. It's an antisemitic concept, and I wish people would stop using it.

It was in its original application, but I think it's still a valuable concept when talking about propaganda. Hitler wasn't the last person to attribute sinister hidden motives to his opponents to foster antipathy and gain support.
posted by Hoopo at 9:14 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, people don't stop believing if they hold on to that feeling...
posted by sharkitect at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: occurs even if the retraction itself is understood, believed, and remembered.
posted by herbplarfegan at 9:45 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe that the primary reason people do this is because they're idiots. Furthermore, you can't shake me out of that belief.
posted by Decani at 9:49 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


It makes me sad and scared that people allow information to lodge itself in the first place. Just yikes.

seriously, I hope to fuck we can raise a generation of more critical skeptics, who can raise one of still more critical skeptics, &c.

Bullshit is just noise, that goes away, unless you agree with it, and spread it. Let the rationally bankrupt go quiet.
posted by herbplarfegan at 9:52 AM on July 15, 2011


Creating illusions about an issue or policical enemy has become a central strategy in American politics--and refined to a science by some. The current tea party phenomenom is an excellent example.

Aye... & *sigh*
re: making the tea party our moral punching bag:
Bullshit and evil are not partison phenomena. What you folks often say about Republicans applies to Politics overall. Saying "Goddamn Republicans" is like saying "Goddamn red-headed serial killers only-- hope/change will come from the blonde serial killers for sure! (*affixes bumper sticker)"

I need a hug.
posted by herbplarfegan at 10:01 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Explains religion. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2011


I blame Journey.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:06 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Um, this isn't news. Propagandists have known this for a least 70 years.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2011


People believe whatever makes them feel good about themselves. See also religion, white supremacy groups, etc.
posted by LordSludge at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2011


I refuse to believe this and I will keep working to change people's minds.
posted by fuq at 10:16 AM on July 15, 2011


Today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal would be appropriate link for many MeFi threads.
posted by Xoebe at 10:40 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


For this reason I've always disliked the "Myths and misconceptions" method of educating people on a topic. They style where they say things like: "Myth: Refugee claimants pose threats to national security. Truth: Refugee claimants are not threats to security." I learned in a class at some point that in cases like this, people are really bad at remembering which of the statements is true and which false, and that if they encounter the false statement later, they'll recognize it as familiar and decide that they must be recognizing it because it is a true thing they learned at some point.

I've always suspected that if people can't remember which of the statements was true and which false, they'll probably assume the one that fits best with their own viewpoint is the true one. Then they'll say "Refugees really are a threat to national security! I remember reading it somewhere!"
posted by arcticwoman at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always suspected that if people can't remember which of the statements was true and which false, they'll probably assume the one that fits best with their own viewpoint is the true one. Then they'll say "Refugees really are a threat to national security! I remember reading it somewhere!"
posted by Hoopo at 11:04 AM on July 15, 2011


"re: making the tea party our moral punching bag:
Bullshit and evil are not partison phenomena. What you folks often say about Republicans applies to Politics overall. Saying "Goddamn Republicans" is like saying "Goddamn red-headed serial killers only-- hope/change will come from the blonde serial killers for sure! (*affixes bumper sticker)"

I disagree, and don't have time to search links to support my thesis. (And doing so may not change your mind,if the OP is correct.) But I must register my disagreement. Republicans and the Tea Party are far and away more systematic about propagandizing against available evidence than are the feeble-at-messaging-but-generally-right-on-the-facts Democrats. 'A pox on both of their houses' obscures some very real differences in kind and degree between the parties.
posted by jetsetsc at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


jetsetsc: Republicans and the Tea Party are far and away more systematic about propagandizing against available evidence

So the red-haired serial killer stutters and shits his pants in public, while the photogenic blonde one has a pacifying public speaking cadence. Doesn't make his blood-money a bit less bloody.

... 'A pox on both of their houses' obscures some very real differences in kind and degree between the parties.

--differences which only matter if you believe certain things about government in the first place.

"...(And doing so may not change your mind, if the OP is correct.)"
Ah, sure-- because I believe something wrong.. ISWYDT of course.

Well, I suppose that's perfectly civil, and it would only make sense if I did likewise if, say, you didn't think that Democrats are every bit as much the thieving, lying sociopathological genocidal tortureporn murderers that Republicans are (I've long been disgusted with the colloquial LOL/GRARrepulicaZn Thing for that reason, Tea Party especially: it's a crucial, savagely crippling red herring)--

oh, one steals from us, tortures and kills our children, and gives us donuts: yay! the other one steals from us, tortures and kills our children, and gives us grits. Fuck that! Tell everyone: Donuts rule! Grits are just laughable, man. We are change. We are the future. I feel so good about this. Keep your eye on the donut!! (*smooths turning edges of bumper sticker)

We could make assertions point-by-point and get a better idea of what the other is talking about, which is something that I would definitely want to try to do before claiming too many assumptions about your point of view,

but at the moment, this reminds me of when I tell Christians that we're not pitting their faith that God exists against "my faith that he doesn't," but rather that their use of faith bars from them the reality that is understand with the use of reason, that faith informs none of my assertions, and that faith & reason are utterly incompatible. I never usually get past that with them, to even start talking about the why and the how of what's wrong with the ideas that they have chosen to accept.

Similarly, from my POV so far, you say that one "party" is better/more moral/preferable to the other somehow, and I say that politicians are the same shit sandwich-- that government itself should be your target if you're trying to name the killer/liar/thief/etc, much less do something about it. I guess when I hear young, smart people rallying for the "good guys" on the Left it just sounds like denominations in the church arguing over God-oriented nitpicks in the smokescreen of their blood-stained sameness. I've come to understand the lack of absence of truth and virtue in the whole of religion and government ...and, I suppose, come off like a douche in explaining it, which I guess is impossible to avoid, but: if you care about truth and peace and justice and virtue, Christ on a stick, man, don't look to the government for it.

Why do we disagree? Either we have extremely different ethics, or one of us hasn't been afforded proper consideration to the facts. I get that. Certainly I know what I think; I know what I think you think (and what I think you think I think)-- if we were drinking pints together, we could probably explain ourselves much better, and would both probably learn things. That's technically possible here too, but it smells like the beginnings of a GRARfest stalemate, which always sucks right before happy hour.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:50 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related post.
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on July 15, 2011


The "skeptic" had no rebuttals for any of these answers, either. After it was done, Ira Glass asked her if she's changed her mind now. She said no, it wasn't enough.

There was a similar exchange between a scientist and a caller on Science Friday, where Ira (Flatow) finally asked, in exasperation, "Is there anything he could say to convince you vaccines are not linked to autism?" The caller replied truthfully: "No."
posted by knave at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


@herbplarfegan:
a lot of politicians across the globe are corrupt in different ways, regardless of political affiliation. Power corrupts. This leads a lot of people to disengage from politics, which in turn leaves politics to the corrupt politicians. As far as I can see, there is more corruption where there is less participation. So as I see it, while I may agree (over a pint) that all politicians are scumbags, I disagree that all politicians are equally scumbaggish, and I believe we need to engage and participate if we can.
When it comes to US politics, they are as ugly as they come. But there is no doubt in my mind that the Republicans are more corrupt, more lying, more cynical and more deceiving than the Democrats. It's not by degrees, it's by hemispheres. This is a tragic development of the party of Lincoln, but it's real.
How can any single Republican pretend to be a fiscal conservative today?? That's absurd.
How can any Republican (maybe except McCain, but that's another tragic story) claim to protect individual freedoms? Or be pro-defense (not pro arms-industry)? It makes no sense at all.

Now I have no idea if you even vote. But what you express is a common conservative point of view: since all politicians are liars, I'll vote for the liar who represents my interests. Since all foreign heads of states are evil dictators, we'll support the ones who support us. Since politics is mostly about swing voters and spin, that's what I'll focus on. Etc. on all imaginable issues. But that isn't reality and never was. Lots and lots of people are neither cynical nor corrupt, and among them are some politicians. You need to support them, and get the other guys ousted.
And as you do that: since we just agreed that (almost) all politicians are scumbags, you have to acknowledge that the good guys who engage themselves in this are also engaging themselves in a world of cynicism and corruption. And they will not be able to prevail every day. Even less so if hardly anyone is supporting them. So you will need to be patient. And consistent.

And to get back on topic: you have to keep on repeating the facts to every single person who for some reason or other denies them:
No, the tea party will not protect your medicare
No, there are no "death panels"
Yes, the global climate is changing
Yes, there is a global struggle over resources
Yes, there will be terrible global consequences if the US defaults on its debts
Yes, Americans and everyone else in the west will eventually pay more taxes or radically cut down services (like medicare)
(and one can go on and on and on)
posted by mumimor at 3:00 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There were no domestic terrorist attacks while Bush was President. Even Rudy Giuliani says so.
posted by psyche7 at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2011


Correct link:

"Have You Forgotten?" Conservatives Erase 9/11 From Bush Record | Media Matters for America
posted by psyche7 at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2011


psyche7, you have now convinced me that I am not cynical enough. Which I did not believe.

I think I just disproved the study.
posted by likeso at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2011


"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." – Lily Tomlin
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


that government itself should be your target if you're trying to name the killer/liar/thief/etc, much less do something about it.

Congratulations, herbplarfegan, you have the purely distilled the essence of the Republican Party's current platform. You are now officially a Republican. Deal with it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:27 PM on July 15, 2011


Even more interesting: why do people believe?
posted by Twang at 8:18 PM on July 15, 2011


Even more interesting: why do people believe?

Cause they're like Fox Mulder?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:37 PM on July 15, 2011


Makes me wonder what stupidity I continue to believe in despite evidence to the contrary.

I think a lot of people have gone through a point where something that was thought to be a hard and fast rule turned out to be wrong -- and then a seed gets planted that if one side is wrong, then, by sheer default, the opposite has to be true, which is nonsense. Sometimes it is a merging of two opposites or it is something other option(s).

Sometimes people believe things because it's just personal convenience, pride, or it's mental laziness or they are too terrified of the ramifications of admitting one thing they thought was right turned out to be wrong -- it's like this huge fortress based on lies is going to collapse on them and instead of wanting the liberation, they hold on to the rubble for dear life, never thinking of how much they are being held back by believing lies.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2011


It can be much worse than that. There are a disturbing number of people whose identities are wrapped up in fantasy belief structures. Challenging their fantasies is attacking their identity. Think of how many people you've run into who are what they fantasize.

I suspect this is why conspiratorialism is such an integral part of extremist recruiting. Once hooked by the lie, they literally have to become somebody else if they confront the falsehoods.

In some forms of extremism, neo-nazis for instance, it's mostly playacting. The beliefs are partly a put-on. So there are lots of "reformed" neo-nazis. Among the Christian Patriots, the beliefs are integral to personality. As a result, there are very few people who escape that movement once captured.

This mechanism also provides the rationale for Fox News fabrications. Once hooked, there's no leaving. It's also why so few victims of fraud will report being swindled.

In a weird and twisted way, this situation could be used to support the conservative contention of inherent human evil.... But they would probably lie about it.
posted by warbaby at 10:27 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Related: The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science.
posted by sillygwailo at 7:03 PM on July 17, 2011


oneswellfoop: Congratulations, herbplarfegan, you have the purely distilled the essence of the Republican Party's current platform. You are now officially a Republican. Deal with it.

The stupidity of that statement isn't something that I care to confront just this early (Pacific time if that matters, sorry)
posted by herbplarfegan at 9:28 AM on July 18, 2011


...I sincerely hope it doesn't hurt your feelings that engaging you on that seems to me like just as much of a waste of time as arguing with my aunt when she asserts with utmost confidence that because I do not believe in Jesus, the devil is living and breathing inside me. I'm hearing precisely the same thing from you-- it's artfully, just about awe-inducingly seamless comparing you two.

(actually, maybe you and my aunt should discuss this article together...)
posted by herbplarfegan at 9:39 AM on July 18, 2011


Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas
posted by homunculus at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2011


« Older Tarol Hunt, author of webcomic Goblins, was recent...  |  Given the material abundance m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments