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Refuting Misinformation

Tuesday, 16th September 2008

This is very disturbing. New research has shown that Republicans are more likely to believe a lie after it has been refuted by experts or withdrawn by the source. In other words, if a Republican hears that Obama will increase everyone's taxes, explaining that Obama's tax plan will actually reduce taxes for those of us making less than $220,000/year will only make them more likely to believe that everyone's taxes will go up.

The article doesn't say this, but I can only assume that Republicans have become so convinced that there is a vast left-wing conspiracy that they now believe any information that doesn't support their beliefs must be a lie propagated by that left-wing conspiracy. Democrats might react the same way to information coming from Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but in general they don't believe in that kind of vast conspiracy, so they're more willing to accept independent facts.

Another study showed that among both Liberals and Conservatives, people's attitudes are affected by misinformation and hearing the truth does not fully reverse their attitude. For example, hearing a lie about something bad someone has done will make people think badly of that person, but after hearing the truth, they'll still think somewhat poorly of them, even though they believe the true fact. No wonder political campaigns are full of so much negative advertising.


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