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How facts backfire Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains

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... 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 actually make misinformation even stronger.This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters-the people making decisions about how the country runs-aren't blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed.

Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

"The general idea is that it's absolutely threatening to admit you're wrong," says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon-known as "backfire"-is "a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance."...

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/#sthash.w1PCdJaQ.dpuf

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We are living this today. Fox News and the agenda of misinforming conservative viewers has elevated the significance of this study. The continued misinformation, even when counted by facts, will not change the thought processes of the majority who have already believed. They will vote the way they will vote even when their votes WILL hurt them, others like them, and the country as a whole.

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It seems that some on the right side of the aisle have really developed it into an art form. Issa is a good example of incomplete quotes. Cruz has amnesia for all the stupid things he says. Ryan has gained the reputation for pants on fire. That does not even begin to touch the "family values" they and many others run on and trounce over at every turn.

The left side of the aisle has some of the same issues but if you were to go toe to toe, I suspect you would find more lies, deception, misquotes, and misdirection almost as good as some magicians, to be found more on the right.

Each time I read Breitbart I go back to original quotes and find the holes to change the meaning huge. When I read left wing blogs I find a slant but usually they don't rely so much on masquerading partial misleading quotes to get their points across.

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And we have a President who lies all the time. Spin away.

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And we have a President who lies all the time. Spin away.

And so have they all. Name one POTUS who never told a lie. I suspect even George Washington had a moment of less than veracious speech.

The isse is much larger than one POTUS. It has been accepted that FOX entertainment passes itself off as news and gets great financial interest from the GOP. Their lack of truthfulness is intended to keep their viewers and listeners filled with inaccuracies.

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I will agree to disagree on that. And also the inference that left-leaning "news" outlets are always truthful.

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I did not say that left leaning news were always truthful. What do you disagree with? Fox is not news. It is listed as entertainment. Presidents lie. Perhaps you think Washington was always truthful? It has been well documented about the financial interests of the GOP re Fox. Perhaps you do not think the lies are intentional?

Whatever. I have to work in the morning so I can't hang out.

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Fox has an entertainment channel and then it has its "news" channel. I agree that not all the shows on that one are actual news shows, but not all of them are just talk-type shows either.

I guess fairness, which we all should want, would require you to list left-leaning shows that shovel inaccurate reports as well....not just the conservative ones. And since that never happens it is a reasonable assumption that fairness is not something sought after.

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... What do you disagree with? Fox is not news. It is listed as entertainment...

Source? You've stated this before. When I searched this I found one reference, and this related to a statement made by an individual station owner, not Fox News.

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Regarding Fox "News" -

Google "Fox News and Bias" or "Fox News and Fairness" or "Is Fox News News", etc., etc., etc., and one will find a whole lot of links about Fox News, both positive and negative. For good or for bad, I'm including a link from wikipedia. Yea, I know: "Wikipedia". It ain't the most reliable source of information to be used by anyone for any reason. What impressed me about this particular link, though, is the number of other links that point to a whole lot of studies regarding "Fox News Channel Controversies".

Here's the link: Fox News Channel controversies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But there's a greater point to be made about "facts" and "news". I hope that I don't need to explain to anyone here to what constitutes a "Fact". It is good to read that people who debate on this forum request (or insist) on sources. Hopefully the sources are reputable and the information they share are verifiable. I would also add that if a source is written to prove a point, that the research cited is thorough, unbiased and science-based in methodology and (hopefully) reproducible. Should not news be the same? Should not news be "just the facts and only the facts"? When I read a research article, it's freakin' boring (but factual). Should not news be equally boring if the intent is to present facts? I'm seriously asking these questions for thoughtful consideration.

This is not to say that news channels can't have opinions or an opinion segment that is aired. After all, we all have our political ideologies that need to be stroked. But in my opinion, those "opinion segments" should be labeled as such and aired separate from "The News". Let the emotions and theatrics be displayed during "The Opinion Shows". In my mind, emotions and theatrics hold no place when "The News" is being presented. Why? Because I believe that should the news be made to present facts, it should be unemotional as facts are unemotional and unbiased. Yes, facts can evoke great emotion. That's where "The Opinion Shows" can shine brightly. But facts themselves? They should be boring and emotionless. This should not be new to anyone reading this because I know that the audience, here, are healthcare professionals. When was the last time anyone here read a research article that will filled with emotion?? (If anyone did, then I question that article.)

I hope that I don't need to educate anyone here on the importance of science-based facts. Researched facts are the corner-stone of most appropriate and effective health-related care that we provide for our patients. It is why most hospitals and other healthcare institutions utilize "research-based" policies and protocols when providing nursing and medical care for their patients (clients). Should this not be true for other areas of life as well? Most especially, should this not be true when government and governmental agencies create laws and policies for its citizens? In my mind (I'm stating an opinion, now), FACTS should be the corner-stone of most (if not all) governmental laws and policies. So, because of this, I hold the strongly held opinion that a country's citizens should be well-educated, at least to the point to appreciate the concept of "Facts". And, to be clear, it takes fair amount of education and personal growth to be able to differentiate fact from opinion. So, yes! I value education. In my opinion, a well-educated citizenry will vote for the best candidate that truly represent the citizen's best interests. Government: "We the People". I'm pretty certain that, especially in the 21st Century, our country's citizenry wish to continue on with ". . . a more perfect Union", and continue to ensure unbiased and well-established "Justice", as well as "insure domestic Tranquality, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. . . " And in my mind, all of this requires FACTS with a well-educated citizenry.

So. . . As we (as a country) continue on to debate politics and political ideology, it is MY HOPE that we collectively value the importance of "facts" as we plead our case. Facts and education are really, really, really, really important. What does all of this have to do with Fox News? I've watched "The Fox News Channel". I surely hold an opinion towards that particular news channel. I don't care for it both because I believe that it presents opinions more than facts, and it does not jive with my own political ideology. However, I sincerely do wish to read YOUR opinions, and read about YOUR "watching habits", to the "Fox News Channel" (and all things Rupert, which also includes the WSJ, by the way). At the very least, it surely has left its mark in our society and should not be taken for granted.

In my mind, when a news agency becomes so polarizing, controversial, and becomes "news" itself, it ceases to be a reliable source of information.

Edited by Ted

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My point is that is you who want to hold Fox's feet to the fire, should also be holding others' to the fire in equal measure.

One of the biggest reasons why I consider Katy Couric a complete flop, other than I find her annoying, is her penchant for this kind of journalistic interviewing: "You agree with me that.....blah, blah, blah, right?"

How is that getting to the bottom of how an interviewee thinks or feels on a particular topic?

And yet, for a long time, she was gushed over by the left. She is a big reason why I don't watch any of those talk shows hosted by or completely populated by women.....

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