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" What people want to believe is more important than what's true."

"Don't Confuse Me With the Facts" 

I 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, Leon Festinger.

" A 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."

The most consequential example -- one that directly and indirectly resulted in the loss of tens-of-thousands of lives, 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.

It wasn't true and 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.

Some broadcast pundits found it advantageous to ignore or obscure these admissions and perpetuate the misconception.

Catering to what people want to believe (and leaving out what they don't want to believe) results in higher ratings, which, of course results in greater profits.

" Since political beliefs are rooted in emotions, the facts are often irrelevant."  --Chris Mooney

As noted in, "I Wouldn't Believe It Even If It Was True!", "Fog" Horne ran into this issue many years ago in the newspaper business.

- Ron Whittaker

>>  You can find more detail on this subject in "Made Up Minds," The Week newsmagazine, May 20, 2011, and at the MotherJones website.

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