01:35 01.06.2017(updated 10:42 01.06.2017) Get short URL
As those seeking topromulgate a biased point ofview label so much information “fake news,” behavioral scientists are now studying whether the human mind can be induced torecognize and refute it.
In a recent study, 100 participants were provided witha scientific report, butwere also informed that intentional misinformation would be included. Participants inthe behavioral study, followingthe warning, were able toidentify the false facts 100 percent ofthe time, asnoted byRawstory.com.
The study participants were informed that “fake experts” are typically used byindustries seeking torefute scientific consensus, and the end results indicated that politics and values were not indicative ofthe study group’s ability toidentify falsehoods.
“Nobody likes tobe misled, no matter their politics,” said a researcher involved withthe project, an indicator, they added, that it is possible forpeople toavoid being led astray bylies.
Observing that humans instinctively reject facts that contradict their personal belief systems, Yale University professor Dan Kahan’s identification ofwhat he calls identity-protective cognition, results ina person identifying withinformation aslong asit supports their own beliefs.
Now scientists are seeking a way toinoculate againstthe practice, toallow fora person torecognize a provable scientific truth astruth and alter their point ofview.
But what is truth?
Sputnik/ Vladimir Astapkovich
Previous studies byCambridge psychology professor Sander van der Linden have shown that simple acceptance ofthe existence ofanother point ofview can assist inallowing those withdefensively held beliefs toentertain the possibility ofchanging their viewpoint.
Scientists, including van der Linden, agree that acceptance ofanother’s viewpoint can smooth overcombative defensive reactions, including amongthose who resist factual information merely because it challenges their belief system.
“Consensus messages don’t ask people tochange their beliefs they ask them tochange their opinion aboutwhat other people believe, so they’re not a direct threat totheir identity,” van der Linden detailed.
Suggesting that, byaccepting that another point ofview can co-exist withyours, it is possible tobring climate change deniers aroundto the provable negative environmental truth, the scientists said, “We’ve found that they’re one way toget people more aligned onthe side ofclimate science.”
“You can’t talk around [climate change denial]; otherwise it persists,” van der Linden said, according toVox.
In offering a scientific truth, he observed, it is helpful tocome right outand say it.
“What’s important is tolead withthe facts the facts are the headline then introduce the myth, and then explain why it’s wrong.”
“There is a consensus ofevidence that human activity is causing all ofrecent global warming. Not some ofit. Not even most ofit. All ofit,” he explained.
Noting that it is “all-too-easy tomislead people intothinking that experts disagree onhuman-caused global warming,” van der Linden suggested that, “If you want towork outwhether you’re getting taken inwith the fake-expert strategy, take a closer look atthe experts’ who are being cited.”
Cognitive scientist and author ofthe Skeptical Science blog John Cook, an adjunct lecturer atAustralia’s University ofQueensland speaking abouthow conflicting views can coexist withina person’s belief system offered that people “want toknow how these two things can exist together. So you have toresolve it, and that turns intoa compelling story.”
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