From our blog.
hat people want to believe is more important than what's true.
"Don't Confuse Me With the Facts"
worked in news and documentaries for many years and was constantly amazed, or
maybe distressed, at how people could disregard clear facts and doggedly hold to opinions
that had long been shown to be incorrect.
Recently, I came across this quote by the famous Stanford psychologist,
man with conviction is a hard man to change.
Tell him you disagree and he runs away.
Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources.
Appeal to his logic and he fails to see your point.
As a new election looms I'm afraid we are
going to see a lot of, "Don't confuse me with the facts, I've got my mind
made up," thinking. [This was written before the recent election but it
The most noted recent example involves the Iraq war. In order to help justify the invasion
of Iraq the Bush White House propagated the idea that Iraq was behind the
World Trade Center attack.
Although it wasn't true, some people paid a personal price
for disputing that story.
Even after President Bush and others in the White House
finally admitted that Iraq wasn't actually behind the attack (and the
facts supported that), many people refused (and still refuse) to believe
otherwise. Of course, a few broadcast pundits found it advantageous to
ignore or obscure these admissions and perpetuate this misconception.
In an extensive article on the subject
Chris Mooney recently said, "Since political beliefs are rooted in emotions,
the facts are often irrelevant."
What people want to believe is more important than what's true.
The question is how can people in a
democracy make intelligent political decisions if their minds are closed to
important facts that emerge?
And a question for news and documentary producers is whether
for the sake of ratings they should shy away from facts that people need to
know, but don't want to hear.
Since there is confusion between facts and
factoids, maybe we should define how we are using the term,
A fact is any observation that has been repeatedly conformed and
accepted as true; any scientific observation that has not been refuted.
In contrast, a factoid is an idea, often passed
off as fact, that ultimately rests on personal belief or opinion.
As noted in, "I Wouldn't Believe It
Even If It Was True!", "Fog" Horne ran into this issue many years ago in the
- Ron Whittaker
You can find more detail on
this subject in "Made Up Minds,"
May 20, 2011, and at the MotherJones website.
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