Debunking just makes people believe the bunk - 'motivated reason'

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
This is a little depressing and makes this site's purpose seem like a doomed enterprise.
Two articles discussing the 'backfire effect' and 'motivated reasoning'.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/brendan-nyhan-backfire-effects-facts
...
presenting people with information confirming the safety of vaccines triggered a "backfire effect," in which people who already distrusted vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate their kids.
...
The study found that conservatives who read the correction were twice as likely to believe Bush's claim was true as were conservatives who did not read the correction.
...
Among survey respondents who were very pro-Palin and who had a high level of political knowledge, the correction actually made them more likely to wrongly embrace the false "death panels" theory.
...
Once again, the correction—uttered in this case by the president himself—often backfired in the study, making belief in the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim worse among certain study participants.
...
Despite these facts, only 1 out of 49 partisans changed his or her mind after the factual correction. Forty-one of the partisans "deflected" the information in a variety of ways, and seven actually denied holding the belief in the first place (although they clearly had).
...
but when Republicans read the article about the more distant farmers, their support for action on climate change decreased, a pattern that was stronger as their Republican partisanship increased.
...
Together, all of these studies support the theory of "motivated reasoning": The idea that our prior beliefs, commitments, and emotions drive our responses to new information, such that when we are faced with facts that deeply challenge these commitments, we fight back against them to defend our identities.
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And a longer article.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney
What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. "They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs," says Taber, "and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing."
In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers (PDF). Our "reasoning" is a means to a predetermined end—winning our "case"—and is shot through with biases. They include "confirmation bias," in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and "disconfirmation bias," in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
How can it be that science, and facts, when brought into a discussion cannot be thought as valid?

Does superstition then win?

Is THIS what we as a species, the users of tools, have become??
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
I share your pain, brother. But I remind myself that addressing bunk is not solely aimed at the fanatical…
I still believe that those thinking, and only marginally attracted to nonsense, can be effectively encouraged to demand real evidence...
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
I share your pain, brother. But I remind myself that addressing bunk is not solely aimed at the fanatical…
I still believe that those thinking, and only marginally attracted to nonsense, can be effectively encouraged to demand real evidence...

Well stated. I might "borrow" this phrase, someday:

"Those thinking, and only marginally attracted to nonsense, can be effectively encouraged to demand real evidence."

Concise, and accurate.
 

Melbury's Brick

Senior Member.
How can it be that science, and facts, when brought into a discussion cannot be thought as valid?

Does superstition then win?

Is THIS what we as a species, the users of tools, have become??
To a large degree, yes. If it was easy to shift deeply entrenched beliefs with logic, there'd be no religion.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
How can it be that science, and facts, when brought into a discussion cannot be thought as valid?

Does superstition then win?
if no one can understand the science, it means nothing. except maybe "youre stupid if you don't understand this". people don't like being called stupid so will often rebel.

the gobbley gook is great, looks like people know what they are talking about.. but then it should be translated for the common folk. ; )

as far as those articles, they have to be taken with a grain of salt. each 'study' is of course very different, the reasons for the protest.
but basically, what people SAY their new outlook is, isn't necessarily really their outlook. They could just be saying it is to 'save face' or defend their own guilt (depending on the type of bunk being debunked). That's much different then 'not believing the debunk'.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
if no one can understand the science, it means nothing.


Yes!! Exactly. This tears at the root of the problem, as the importance of educating and explaining reality becomes more and more of a 'burden', on the shoulders of some who bother to attempt it!
 

Ross Marsden

Senior Member.
if no one can understand the science, it means nothing. except maybe "youre stupid if you don't understand this". people don't like being called stupid so will often rebel.

the gobbley gook is great, looks like people know what they are talking about.. but then it should be translated for the common folk. ; )

as far as those articles, they have to be taken with a grain of salt. each 'study' is of course very different, the reasons for the protest.
but basically, what people SAY their new outlook is, isn't necessarily really their outlook. They could just be saying it is to 'save face' or defend their own guilt (depending on the type of bunk being debunked). That's much different then 'not believing the debunk'.

Yes, there is definitely an element of dishonesty. This goes a bit beyond cognitave dissonance. There seems to be a choice to stay with the bunk despite consideration of different knowledge.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I came out of debunking the "Planet X" hoax with an important understanding. The central, most important aspect of the hoax/story/whatever and the most imperative notion was a belief in conspiracy, in general. That belief trumps ALL attempts to correct false notions because they believe that any attempt at debunking is just part of the conspiracy to cover up the truth. The number one indoctrination in cults is that of an "us and them" mentality, whereby anyone from the outside is generally considered an "enemy". If the cults' beliefs, whatever they are, are "attacked" in any way, that is a sure sign, to the cult member, that the "attacker" is the "enemy", by sheer definition.

Perceived persecution strengthens cults.

It's almost as if the more outrageous the beliefs of the cult, the more likely it is that people will take time to point out how outrageous those beliefs are, which triggers a defensive response reinforcing the idea that if the cult's core beliefs are under attack they must be correct. All it takes is the added idea of a "coverup" of the special information possessed by the cult - thus an automatic, hidden, sneaky, sinister enemy. After all, why would anyone bother to "attack" something which was merely stupidly wrong? I know we all see that sentiment expressed all the time by chemtrail believers.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
I came out of debunking the "Planet X" hoax with an important understanding. The central, most important aspect of the hoax/story/whatever and the most imperative notion was a belief in conspiracy, in general. That belief trumps ALL attempts to correct false notions because they believe that any attempt at debunking is just part of the conspiracy to cover up the truth. The number one indoctrination in cults is that of an "us and them" mentality, whereby anyone from the outside is generally considered an "enemy". If the cults' beliefs, whatever they are, are "attacked" in any way, that is a sure sign, to the cult member, that the "attacker" is the "enemy", by sheer definition.

Perceived persecution strengthens cults.

It's almost as if the more outrageous the beliefs of the cult, the more likely it is that people will take time to point out how outrageous those beliefs are, which triggers a defensive response reinforcing the idea that if the cult's core beliefs are under attack they must be correct. All it takes is the added idea of a "coverup" of the special information possessed by the cult - thus an automatic, hidden, sneaky, sinister enemy. After all, why would anyone bother to "attack" something which was merely stupidly wrong? I know we all see that sentiment expressed all the time by chemtrail believers.
Yes, sometimes the more outrageous the claims of a conspiracy the greater the buy in of the believers. It is also based on the acceptance of the foundational precepts such as: the absolute existence of 1) a shadow government (TPTB), 2) HAARP and 3) Chemtrails, that is the visual reinforcement of persistent contrails and cirrus cloud banks. To true believers this is the triangle that underpins all their other concepts. These are not questionable, to change their minds one has to convince them one of these concepts is false and has to be removed from the triangle. Good luck, but I think it is possible but very difficult.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
At the end of the day, for most folks, watching YouTube videos is just infinitely easier than the challenging (and less sexy) task of studying the science.

"YouTube University" is also a way to finally be the one who is "in the know"…unlike your Uncle Snerdly, the professor, who you often felt a little inadequate around...
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Yes, sometimes the more outrageous the claims of a conspiracy the greater the buy in of the believers. It is also based on the acceptance of the foundational precepts such as: the absolute existence of 1) a shadow government (TPTB), 2) HAARP and 3) Chemtrails, that is the visual reinforcement of persistent contrails and cirrus cloud banks. To true believers this is the triangle that underpins all their other concepts. These are not questionable, to change their minds one has to convince them one of these concepts is false and has to be removed from the triangle. Good luck, but I think it is possible but very difficult.
My point was that the more absurd the beliefs, the more people will say they are absurd, triggering greater belief that they are true, due to belief in a conspiracy to hide the truth of the beliefs. It's an insidious circle.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
At the end of the day, for most folks, watching YouTube videos is just infinitely easier than the challenging (and less sexy) task of studying the science.

"YouTube University" is also a way to finally be the one who is "in the know"…unlike your Uncle Snerdly, the professor, who you often felt a little inadequate around...

Yes. It is the last bastion of the uneducated. They want to believe that the "common man" can figure things out for himself just by "looking up", etc, and doesn't need any of the formal training they never got.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
Yes. It is the last bastion of the uneducated. They want to believe that the "common man" can figure things out for himself just by "looking up", etc, and doesn't need any of the formal training they never got.
I think there is some of that but also think the energy to understand highly technical concepts even for capable people is disheartening and they are easy prey for something that on the surface makes common sense at the time. Once this "buy in" is accomplished the reversal of the process is much more difficult. So Kristen Meghan and others with "credentials" of some level will be accepted with little vetting.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I think there is some of that but also think the energy to understand highly technical concepts even for capable people is disheartening and they are easy prey for something that on the surface makes common sense at the time. Once this "buy in" is accomplished the reversal of the process is much more difficult. So Kristen Meghan and others with "credentials" of some level will be accepted with little vetting.
their are lots of childrens books on how clouds form and what snowflakes are. I don't think with stuff like chemtrails the debunk stuff common people need to hear is all that technical.

"you cant put mach capable engines in a regular looking airliner because it would fall apart at those speeds". isn't really so difficult to comprehend.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
But the 'common sense' version they come to themselves or with a group of like-minded people with the same concerns, has more emotional inertia, which any subsequent corrections and explanations are fighting against.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
their are lots of childrens books on how clouds form and what snowflakes are. I don't think with stuff like chemtrails the debunk stuff common people need to hear is all that technical.

"you cant put mach capable engines in a regular looking airliner because it would fall apart at those speeds". isn't really so difficult to comprehend.

They think the children's books are being rewritten to indoctrinate the children. How do you fight that type of thinking?

Watch this and then try to imagine a simple way to counter it all.

 
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Jazzy

Closed Account
I would like to point out that this can only be resisted proactively, and the only way to defeat it, if it becomes necessary to do so, is by using the democratic system to effect a greater bias towards both civil and scientific education in the long term.

A general and population-wide improvement in those levels of understanding is the only way to extinguish this folly, and also prep the world for the inevitable consequences of global warming.

It's socially-cohesive too. Meanwhile pass round the fire extinguishers, because it may take a while. Watch out for alligators...
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
their are lots of childrens books on how clouds form and what snowflakes are. I don't think with stuff like chemtrails the debunk stuff common people need to hear is all that technical.

"you cant put mach capable engines in a regular looking airliner because it would fall apart at those speeds". isn't really so difficult to comprehend.

I agree with you in principle, but let's be honest:
You Can't Put Mach-Capable Engines in a Regular-Looking Airliner Because It Would Fall Apart At Those Speeds
was the worst-selling Dr. Seuss title for a reason

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 7.20.53 PM.png

I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of chemtrailers already believed another "can't trust the government" conspiracy
(tons of data on 'believers' believing multiple conspiracies)…once the "I'm being lied to" seed is planted, it seems like almost anything goes…
including scenarios that would require our government to be 50x more competent and efficient than they've ever been!

(In other words…I question whether it's really about not knowing the basics of clouds…)
 
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George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
their are lots of childrens books on how clouds form and what snowflakes are. I don't think with stuff like chemtrails the debunk stuff common people need to hear is all that technical.

"you cant put mach capable engines in a regular looking airliner because it would fall apart at those speeds". isn't really so difficult to comprehend.
I don't think they are confused about how clouds may form but what would adding substances to exhaust or directly into the atmosphere at altitude would look like. This is a different question. I only found a handful of research projects done by NOAA, DOE, NASA, FAA, etc. on such questions and that was only related to Sulfur spiked jet fuel. So if I call to your attention that substances are being spiked in aviation fuel or sprayed at high altitude can you point to anything but experts saying that no one is doing such a thing or that it is not a logical way to accomplish such a massive program without discovery? Of course you can say persistent contrails have always been there etc. and exhausts at 35,000 feet and -40C can result in persistent contrails and so on, but once the seed has been planted it is hard to uproot.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I don't think they are confused about how clouds may form but what would adding substances to exhaust or directly into the atmosphere at altitude would look like. This is a different question. I only found a handful of research projects done by NOAA, DOE, NASA, FAA, etc. on such questions and that was only related to Sulfur spiked jet fuel. So if I call to your attention that substances are being spiked in aviation fuel or sprayed at high altitude can you point to anything but experts saying that no one is doing such a thing or that it is not a logical way to accomplish such a massive program without discovery? Of course you can say persistent contrails have always been there etc. and exhausts at 35,000 feet and -40C can result in persistent contrails and so on, but once the seed has been planted it is hard to uproot.
well at least THAT is a legitimate question. but they don't seem to be asking legitimate questions most of the time. I mean plastic snow all over America that mysteriously , what?, blows away? supersonic airliners being used to spray aerosols instead of being used for capitalistic ventures.... ... ; /
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I don't think they are confused about how clouds may form but what would adding substances to exhaust or directly into the atmosphere at altitude would look like. This is a different question. I only found a handful of research projects done by NOAA, DOE, NASA, FAA, etc. on such questions and that was only related to Sulfur spiked jet fuel. So if I call to your attention that substances are being spiked in aviation fuel or sprayed at high altitude can you point to anything but experts saying that no one is doing such a thing or that it is not a logical way to accomplish such a massive program without discovery? Of course you can say persistent contrails have always been there etc. and exhausts at 35,000 feet and -40C can result in persistent contrails and so on, but once the seed has been planted it is hard to uproot.

Yes, the thing about hypersonic engines is a real fringe element of the story. The more centrail issues, like the above, require examination of the technical aspects of jet engine operation, contrail formation and persistence, the TRUE nature of what geoengineering would look like, etc.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
well at least THAT is a legitimate question. but they don't seem to be asking legitimate questions most of the time. I mean plastic snow all over America that mysteriously , what?, blows away? supersonic airliners being used to spray aerosols instead of being used for capitalistic ventures.... ... ; /
I really don't think most believe in the plastic snow or supersonic spray systems but will listen to such. There is just enough supportive evidence to make people sympathetic to the speculation, so they will listen and accept bits and pieces of the Conspiracy Theory. So persistent contrails do exist, they seem to have increased over the last few decades, global warming in ongoing or threatened and is something geoengineering schemes are being proposed to mitigate, technology to accomplish these schemes is available or potentially available in the known future, weather patterns appear to be changing, secret programs have and do exist.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I really don't think most believe in the plastic snow or supersonic spray systems but will listen to such. There is just enough supportive evidence to make people sympathetic to the speculation, so they will listen and accept bits and pieces of the Conspiracy Theory. So persistent contrails do exist, they seem to have increased over the last few decades, global warming in ongoing or threatened and is something geoengineering schemes are being proposed to mitigate, technology to accomplish these schemes is available or potentially available in the known future, weather patterns appear to be changing, secret programs have and do exist.

It all adds to a general meme which says that "The government is constantly doing bad things to us". Somewhere in the backs of minds, the "chemical snow" concept has taken root.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
It all adds to a general meme which says that "The government is constantly doing bad things to us". Somewhere in the backs of minds, the "chemical snow" concept has taken root.
If I had to pick one concept that convinces the most people that chemtrails exists other than persistent contrails is the belief that the government or shadow government is capable of acts against the best interests and safety of its citizens. Unfortunately, there are historical examples of such things coming out of WWII and the Cold War making the more suspicious wonder if things have really changed from the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing days, etc.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
Hmmmmm... Has anyone tried making a Mr Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy style YouTube video yet? Simple, basic science delivered in a way that makes the viewer feel empowered rather than soap boxed at?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Hmmmmm... Has anyone tried making a Mr Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy style YouTube video yet? Simple, basic science delivered in a way that makes the viewer feel empowered rather than soap boxed at?
or maybe its just a matter of 'gathering' all the already available videos into one channel. there actually IS educational stuff on youtube too.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Hmmmmm... Has anyone tried making a Mr Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy style YouTube video yet? Simple, basic science delivered in a way that makes the viewer feel empowered rather than soap boxed at?
The problem is how hostile they are to the concept of simple debunking - contrail science and this website have many examples of simple, non-preachy presentations that are just denied as 'dis-info' and now Mick is the target of vile hatred because of it.
In video format there's not going to be a change from that reaction at all, in fact they'd probably scream even louder about 'dis-info campaigns'.
Maybe a video using sesame street puppets will make them feel better about it, but I doubt it.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
If I had to pick one concept that convinces the most people that chemtrails exists other than persistent contrails is the belief that the government or shadow government is capable of acts against the best interests and safety of its citizens. Unfortunately, there are historical examples of such things coming out of WWII and the Cold War making the more suspicious wonder if things have really changed from the atmospheric nuclear weapons testing days, etc.

I think the main reason is that people like to think they have become privy to some big inside secret thing.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The problem is how hostile they are to the concept of simple debunking - contrail science and this website have many examples of simple, non-preachy presentations that are just denied as 'dis-info' and now Mick is the target of vile hatred because of it.
In video format there's not going to be a change from that reaction at all, in fact they'd probably scream even louder about 'dis-info campaigns'.
Maybe a video using sesame street puppets will make them feel better about it, but I doubt it.
we gotta get Betty White to host it ; )
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Hmmmmm... Has anyone tried making a Mr Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy style YouTube video yet? Simple, basic science delivered in a way that makes the viewer feel empowered rather than soap boxed at?

Yeah, people have done that with the "Nibiru" stuff. It was a good idea- just straightforward explanations. Still, it didn't affect the "true believers", because they wouldn't watch them. It really did help the people who were not yet down the rabbit hole.
 

George B

Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member
I think the main reason is that people like to think they have become privy to some big inside secret thing.
Quite possibly correct. I have been given inside information few know or understand is seductive.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
I think most people want to feel smart.

If you're stocking the Disney underwear at Wal-Mart all night long,
and some YouTube video is telling you that you're now among an elite group
in America who are the ones who actually know what's really going on
(unlike your stuck-up sisters who constantly flaunt their Florida State degrees in your face)
that's probably going to have significant appeal...
 
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