Academic Study of Ideologues Ignoring The Facts

The Boston Globe has an article which describes a phenomenon which has been clear for a long time as a new discovery. They reported on studies which found that people, especially ideologues, often ignore facts which contradict their views:

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

This is hardly surprising. We’ve seen this during the Iraq war as many conservatives held onto beliefs that there was WMD in Iraq or that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attack. In addition, we see conservatives expressing numerous beliefs which are counter to fact. In economics we see conservatives hold onto the same erroneous economic views regardless of how often they lead to disaster. In science this includes belief in creationism and denial of the human role in climate change. In history we see a growing number of conservatives deny the fact that the Founding Fathers supported separation of church and state despite all the historical documentation that this is what they intended.

The conservative movement, with its disconnect from reality, is also prone to spreading unfounded conspiracy theories. In recent elections we’ve seen them hold onto disputed claims such as those from the Swift Boat Liars and the Birthers. Many conservatives continue to claim that neither John Kerry’s military record or Barack Obama’s birth certificate have been released. In reality, not only have both documents been made public but they have also been posted on line. Then we have the Tea Party movement which is totally disconnected from reality.

Of course there are also some nutty views held on the far left too. The difference is that  the left in this country is dominated by people who are generally pragmatic and even moderate by international standards. Those with views which are contrary to fact on the left tend to have little influence, while the conservative movement has become dominated by ideologues who deny the facts whenever they contradict their extremist views.

The researchers looked at a few specific issues:

New research, published in the journal Political Behavior last month, suggests that once those facts — or “facts” — are internalized, they are very difficult to budge. In 2005, amid the strident calls for better media fact-checking in the wake of the Iraq war, Michigan’s Nyhan and a colleague devised an experiment in which participants were given mock news stories, each of which contained a provably false, though nonetheless widespread, claim made by a political figure: that there were WMDs found in Iraq (there weren’t), that the Bush tax cuts increased government revenues (revenues actually fell), and that the Bush administration imposed a total ban on stem cell research (only certain federal funding was restricted). Nyhan inserted a clear, direct correction after each piece of misinformation, and then measured the study participants to see if the correction took.

For the most part, it didn’t. The participants who self-identified as conservative believed the misinformation on WMD and taxes even more strongly after being given the correction. With those two issues, the more strongly the participant cared about the topic — a factor known as salience — the stronger the backfire. The effect was slightly different on self-identified liberals: When they read corrected stories about stem cells, the corrections didn’t backfire, but the readers did still ignore the inconvenient fact that the Bush administration’s restrictions weren’t total.

Incorrect views on the right, such as on WMD and the effect of tax cuts, are fairly widespread. I imagine that there are some on the left who believe that Bush supported total restrictions on stem cell research, but most liberal writings have been more specific in criticizing Bush for the federal restrictions on funding of stem cell research. Articles frequently noted that, while the ban was not total, Bush’s limitations on the stem cell lines on which research was allowed wound up crippling stem cell research.

This phenomenon described is hardly surprising or anything new, but there might be some value in publicizing such academic research. This might help a bit in countering the misinformation which commonly comes from Fox and the Tea Party rallies. Of course the research also demonstrates what we already knew–those who believe these claims are unlikely to change their minds based upon the facts.

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19 Comments

  1. 1
    Patrick says:

    It is quite odd to read consecutive examples of one pot calling the kettle black…all in just a single piece!

    You – a leftist – have accused the “right” of falling for WMD in Iraq when your representatives also “fell for it”. One should also note that delivery missiles, evacuation tunnels for WMD that led all the way to Syria and plutonium in the Tigris River was found (would Saddaam have deliberately polluted the environment?) in Iraq along with mustard gas and other materials for “dirty bombs”.
    You make the charge that conservatives hold onto concepts that are economically contrary to fact yet your party has had control of ALL major facets of government over the last 18 months and the overwhelming majority of the rhetoric that we heard in 2008 from “your side” seems to be very contrary to fact.
    You make the charge that conservatives are not on the side of reason regarding climate change yet we have seen record lows this year around the world in addition to countless studies that refute the initial claims from the “global warming” crowd – so much so that they have had to change the title of their “cause” from global warming to “climate change”. How is that? Moreover, Al Gore is inconveniently inaccessible for comment. In fact, Mr. Gore could easily be held up as one who has not delivered on his promises or hypothesis.
    You claim that conservatives deny the fact that the founding fathers recognized the separation of church and state but you offer no examples. Moreover, you also do not acknowledge the fact that God was mentioned several times throughout historical documents and that He is mentioned on our currency, on our historical structures, etc. Hence, your interpretation of a “separation” is likely subjective and not objective.
    You charge the “right” with adhering to conspiracy theories, yet many on the left believe that 9/11 was “planned” and some on the left believe that it didn’t really happen and that it was all a….that’s right…a conspiracy.
    You also imply that Fox News and the “Tea Party” are somehow accepted as mainstream or at least ubiquitous. Really? That concept is hard to take seriously given the fact that the left dominates academia, the media, the entertainment industry and all facets of the current American government.
    I applaud you for your efforts to advance your agenda but the evidence that you use to buttress your claims is weak, transparent and frankly quite pathetic. You have clearly “ignored many facts” in an attempt to get your point across. Perhaps it is time to hit the books and study those “facts” again. I suspect you will not like what you find. You will likely join Al Gore in your discovery of the inconvenient truth.
     
     

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Patrick,

    Thank you for your comment, which helps demonstrate how misinformed the typical conservative is, demonstrating the point of this post.

    This post is not an attempt to provide any evidence to support my views. It is merely a report on the publications referred to. I have provided far more evidence for each of these points in multiple previous posts.

    There is far too much here to try to repeat all the evidence for every point here but I will hit on some main points.

    WMD: Many liberals were skeptical of the claims before the war. Others did believe them at first, but accepted the evidence to the contrary. It is many conservatives who hang onto disputed claims that there was WMD at the onset of the war when even the reports from the Bush administration ultimately conceded that there was no WMD at the time of the war. Evidence of WMD prior to the war is irrelevant to this point.

    Economy: You give no specifics here. The Democrats have governed in a reality-based matter while it has been Republicans who have been making the claims which are counter to fact, as has been noted in multiple posts.

    Climate Change: The claim that the title was changed because of any problem with the data demonstrating global warming is a common falsehood seen on the right. Climate change is used because it is a more accurate description of what the models show. While overall there is global warming, the models have always predicted that there would be some places which are cooler, at least temporarily. It is another false claim that there are studies refuting this. I have multiple posts noting how conservative sites and publications have frequently promoted junk science which has no bearing on the actual evidence (along with the bogus claims of Climategate which were not supported by the material in the stolen email).

    Most importantly, the claims of cooling from the right are false. 2009 was tied for the second warmest year on record and the decade was the warmest. This is consistent with the predictions.

    Separation of Church and State: The Constitution is notable for its virtual absence of mention of god–which was very unusual for government documents from that era. The only mentions are the lack of a religious test for office in the main body plus the First Amendment. There is nothing subjective about separation of church and state. This is discussed in many of the writings of the founding fathers and upheld in many court decisions. Many documents from that era dispute the current claims of the right, such as the Treaty of Tripoli which points out that ” the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

    The addition of “In God We Trust” to the currency was a relatively recent development when the government was controlled by the right and has nothing to do with the views of the founding fathers.

    Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 conspiracies are held by segments on both the left and right, and do not represent mainstream liberal belief. I have posts from liberals ranging from the mainstream such as Bill Clinton to even those beyond the mainstream such as Bill Maher knocking 9/11 conspiracy theorists. On the other hand, the more widespread belief held by liberals has been confirmed–the Bush administration acted negligently in ignoring warnings about al Qaeda both from the Clinton administration and in its own intelligence briefs.

  3. 3
    Patrick says:

     
    Thank you for your clarifications. Perhaps we will need to agree to disagree. I much prefer clarity over agreement.

    It seems that you hold conservatives responsible for the fact that there were no assembled WMD found in Iraq, for not being realistically engaged with regard to the current economy, for promoting junk science with regard to climate change, for outright denying the separation of church and state in America, for actively spreading conspiracy theories and for being unwilling to alter their views despite the overwhelming data that you believe so clearly and factually (so you claim) contradicts them.
     
    Your conclusion from all of the above is, in part, that conservatives are misinformed.
     
    Conversely, I submit that you, like many on the Left, have become inadvertently involved in some of the problems that you are attempting to solve (hence my original post). By so adamantly charging that the other side is wrong and misinformed, despite the fact that many in your own camp engage in the very same behavior, it becomes difficult to take such people on the Left seriously.
     
    So there you have it…you charge people like me with being misinformed and unwilling to grasp factual information and I believe that people such as yourself are so blinded by their own self-assuredness and self-deception that they are unable to notice when the claims they make against others can also be accurately applied to themselves.
     
    For those of us who are not quite as enlightened as yourself, we will have to wait for a while to discover what you and all of those “mainstream” folks on the Left already know to be true (i.e. economic success through higher taxation and more government control, certain and continued increases in global temperature (oh wait a minute…your side gets to be correct regardless of the temp rising or falling – my bad), increased standard of living through more government spending, better relations with radical Islamists via diplomacy, etc).
     
    Contrary to your monolithic and erroneous view of those of us on the Right, I will certainly change my mind on many of the aforementioned issues when they are clearly resolved or even significantly improved as a result of the Left’s alleged accurate grasp of reality and “the facts”. I just wonder how long I will have to wait.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, it is not that I am holding conservatives responsible for the fact that there were no current WMD, but that they went to war based upon such claims when there was considerable reason to question this, and no need to rush to war. Obviously any studies which talk about views on the right or left are not going to apply to everyone. In the case of WMD, many conservatives have been claiming that WMD was found in Iraq when even the Bush administration admitted it was not true. It was an excellent example of people holding onto views despite the evidence–which is why the researchers included this in their study.

    There are certainly some on the left who are misinformed and who hold off the wall ideas. The difference between the left and right at present is that those who hold views based upon misinformation are those dominating the conservative movement and the Republican Party. In contrast, those on the left who hold similarly off the wall views are generally ignored by most liberals and have little impact.

    You are also repeating the distortions of liberal views which conservatives typically use in their strawman attacks, such as in mischaracterizing liberal views as supporting higher taxation and more government control. There is a tremendous difference between conservative rhetoric and the reality of economic policy. It is the conservatives who have been responsible for increased government control of our lives, increased government spending, and higher taxes for the vast majority of taxpayers.

    You are also distorting liberal views in suggesting we get to be correct regardless of the temperature rising or falling. We are speaking of supporting the scientific consensus–not an ideological position. The scientific models have so far been correct in showing an overall climate change. Unfortunately many conservatives don’t seem to understand the difference between climate and the daily temperature.

    You are again distorting liberal views regarding radical Islamists. Liberals have no illusions that we can have better relations with them through diplomacy. However, better relations with the non-radical individuals in the region can help to reduce the number who become radicalized.

    Perhaps you will change your mind based upon the facts. This does not change the fact that the conservative movement bases its views upon misinformation which has been proven to be false.

  5. 5
    Patrick says:

     
    Obviously, we could continue to go round and round which is why I attempted to clarify and summarize our positions with the notion that perhaps we could agree to disagree.
     
    Interestingly enough, the first part of my last post was just a summary of your own assertions.
     
    Since you further clarified your position on WMD, I would like to ask if you know what in fact was found. The materials for WMD were found, the modes of delivery were found, evidence of attempts at rapid disposal of said items were found, hiding places for the materials were found, motive was found and a history of chemical weapons use had occurred. I respect – but do not agree with – your viewpoint that no assembled WMD were found and therefore the US should not have engaged Iraq on that basis so why can’t you at least respect my position that ENOUGH bad stuff was found that was clearly being assembled (or disassembled as it were to avoid detection) by a very bad man and that his cruelty, despotism and acts of terror needed to be stopped and that the US would benefit by said actions? As a member of the party that often prides itself on tolerance, why are you unable to tolerate the co-existence of other possible opinions without ad hominem charges of misinformation and implied stupidity? Speaking for myself, I am not misinformed…I have access to much of the same information to which you have. 
     
    You wrote:  “The difference between the left and right at present is that those who hold views based upon misinformation are those dominating the conservative movement and the Republican Party. In contrast, those on the left who hold similarly off the wall views are generally ignored by most liberals and have little impact.” False and false. Factual information is available to everyone. Those who are misinformed are typically those who choose to subscribe to information and, probably more often, people who espouse information contrary to fact…hardly a group monopolized by the Right. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson and many more leftists in the media all hold views that are “off the wall” yet they are not ignored by liberals. Many leftist college professors are “off the wall” and they are not ignored but gain tenure. Many leftist actors and entertainers are “off the wall” and they are not ignored but instead are glorified.
     
    Your charges of distortion on my part are simply not true. To hold that many on the Left subscribe to the notion that economic success can be achieved through higher taxation or that leftists typically favor increased government control, or that increases in global temperature is cause for alarm, or that Americans can increase their standard of living through more government spending or that we can achieve better relations with radical Islamists via diplomacy is hardly a stretch. Those are positions taken, taught and embraced by the Left on a very regular basis.
     
    Moreover, the fact that Republican politicians sometimes engage in erroneous activities, policies and programs that are usually associated with the Left is more of an indictment of the failed policies and actions of the politician than the politician him/herself. That said, people like George W. Bush (too much spending) and George HW. Bush for that matter (“no new taxes”) have been lambasted by their own party for engaging in such activities – and deservedly so. It is ironic that many of the behaviors that have caused Republican leaders grief and ridicule from the Left have been a result of implementing leftist values and their neglect of conservative values.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Check the actual reports on WMD–not the false claims circulated by the right. The claims you make regarding WMD are false according to the reports from the Bush administration, yet you and many conservatives continue to make such false claims.

    Multiple examples of beliefs based upon misinformation by the right have been cited. You claim this is true of the left but have yet to provide any examples. Keith Olbermann can get pretty hyper at times, but his arguments are based on fact. (Even if it wasn’t, he is a television commentator. Television commentators don’t have the role on the left that people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck do in shaping opinion in large segments of the right). On the other hand, Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson are on the fringes and most liberals know to be skeptical of what they say. (Moore typically is factual in what he says, but sometimes leaves out important information which would affect the conclusion). Leftist actors who are off the wall might be watched as actors, but reality-based liberals can still distinguish between entertainers and people worth taking seriously for their political content.

    The real problem here is that right wing pundits frequently engage in straw man attacks, such as claiming that liberals believe things said by those on the extreme. The same is true of your mischaracterization of liberal views on the economy. As the facts are so overwhelming on the liberal side at present, conservatives must resort to distortion of liberal beliefs as the only way to argue. Higher taxation–I’m not taking about George H W Bush. Compare tax rates under Obama and Reagan. Although they are now much lower, and Obama lowered them further, tea party people march in the street to protest against taxes under Obama.

    Your concept of liberal views from supporting higher taxes and increased government control to believing in diplomacy with radical Islamists are simply repetition of distortions spread by right wing pundits. Again, as the facts are against them, conservative pundits typically argue by mischaracterizing liberal views rather than responding to actual liberal views.

  7. 7
    Patrick says:

    The assertions that I made regarding WMD can be verified by a simple Google search. I will leave it at that to save us all time.

    You claim to have cited examples of “misinformation” on the Right. I would submit that you have not done so successfully.

    Your attempts to make Limbaugh and Beck out to be bigger boogymans than the guys on your side is actually quite sophomoric and, like most of your attempts to claim the truth as your own, falls short of your goal.

    Mr. Chusid, you seem to have quite a high regard for the scope of your knowledge. Apparently, you know how conservatives think and you seem certain, for instance, that “most liberals know to be skeptical of what (people like Jackson, and Moore) say.” In other words, liberals can see the real truth and they have an instinctive and intuitive ability to know just who to believe (and they choose correctly), unlike conservatives of course.

    Each of your posts provides more evidence to buttress my previous assertions. For example, you most recently wrote:

    “The real problem here is that right wing pundits frequently engage in straw man attacks, such as claiming that liberals believe things said by those on the extreme.” Incredibly, this comment was made a few sentences after you made the case that Limbaugh and Beck (both further to the right than many) shaped a large part of the views for the Right. Once again, the pot calling the kettle black.
     
    Moreover, the Hollywood Left has been politically active and hardly ignored for decades. Entertainers like Rage Against the Machine are hugely influential. John Lenin was (and arguably still is) politically influential. Oprah is massively influential. Your attempts to brush away such examples as insignificant are simply erroneous. TV show hosts, movie stars, musical entertainers and the like are predominantly liberal and they clearly have political influence that is not ignored but that is considered by many as reasonable.

    My concepts of liberal views are accurate. There are many fundamental differences between those on the Left and Right but I should not need to explain some of the basic ones to you. Also, there are too many examples to cite regarding the Left’s continued mantra of diplomacy regarding radical Islamists and foreign affairs but some specific and pronounced public cases can be found by revisiting the 2008 Democratic debates wherein Richardson, Obama, Clinton and others repeatedly spoke about using diplomacy as the primary way to solve the issues that face the US and the world in that region (see Richardson here http://www.bing.com/videos/wat.....cy/665l95y ). In fact, upon Hilary Clinton’s confirmation as Sec of State, Rachel Maddow did a piece called “The Age of Diplomacy” (http://www.bing.com/videos/wat.....cy/68io2fx ) in which Sen Barbara Boxer came on to reiterate diplomacy as part of the “change” in foreign policy regarding the Middle East from which we would all surely benefit. These examples render your assertion that I am the one who is misinformed on this issue to be null. Hopefully you will not claim that MSNBC is a right-wing mouthpiece.
     
    In sum, your primary argument that the Right is misinformed and is not in touch with the facts is false. I have successfully and factually provided evidence to discredit your premise and I have also provided examples of factual information that supports my assertion that you – and many on the Left – are often guilty of the very behaviors in which you accuse of engaging.

    You claim to have cited examples of “misinformation” on the Right. I would submit that you have not done so successfully.

    Your attempts to make Limbaugh and Beck out to be bigger boogymans than the guys on your side is actually quite sophomoric and, like most of your attempts to claim the truth as your own, falls short of your goal.

    Mr. Chusid, you seem to have quite a high regard for the scope of your knowledge. You know how conservatives (as the monolithic group that they are) think and you know, for instance, that “most liberals know to be skeptical of what (people like Jackson, and Moore) say.” In other words, liberals can see the real truth and they have an instinctive and intuitive ability to know just who to believe unlike conservatives of course.

    Each of your posts provide more evidence to butress my previous assertions. For example, you most recently wrote:

    “The real problem here is that right wing pundits frequently engage in straw man attacks, such as claiming that liberals believe things said by those on the extreme.” Incredibly, this comment was made a few sentences after you made the case that Limbaugh and Beck (both further to the right than many) shaped a large part of the views on the Right. Once again, the pot calling the kettle black.

    My concepts of liberal views are accurate. There are many fundamental differences between those on the Left and Right but I should not need to explain some of the basic ones to you. Also, there are too many examples to cite regarding the Left’s continued mantra of diplomacy regarding radical Islamists but some specific cases can be found by revisiting the 2008 Democratic debates wherein Richardson, Obama, Clinton and others repeatedly spoke about using diplomacy as the primary way to solve the issues that face the US and the world in that region (see Richardson here http://www.bing.com/videos/wat.....cy/665l95y ). In fact, upon Hilary Clinton’s confirmation as Sec of State, Rachel Maddow did a piece called “The Age of Diplomacy” (http://www.bing.com/videos/wat.....cy/68io2fx ).

  8. 8
    Patrick says:

    Oops…ran out of space. Cont…

    During the Maddow piece, Sen Barbara Boxer came on to reiterate diplomacy as part of the “change” in foreign policy regarding the Middle East from which we would all surely benefit. These examples render your assertion that I am the one who is misinformed on this issue to be null. Hopefully you will not claim that MSNBC is a right-wing mouthpiece.
     
    In sum, your primary argument that the Right is misinformed and is not in touch with the facts is false. I have successfully and factually provided evidence to discredit your premise and I have also provided examples of factual information that supports my assertion that you – and many on the Left – are often guilty of the very behaviors in which you accuse of engaging

  9. 9
    phastphil says:

    Liberals , Progressives and Democrats pooh pooh and dismiss George Lakoff at your own peril .

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    I “have successfully and factually provided evidence to discredit your premise and I have also provided examples of factual information that supports my assertion that you – and many on the Left – are often guilty of the very behaviors in which you accuse of engaging”

    You have done no such thing. In fact, you continue to prove my point, and the point of the study, that ideologues stick to their arguments regardless of the facts presented.

    Sure you can find a lot with a Google search which presents the same misinformation on WMD which you and other conservatives stick to, regardless of the facts. Check the actual CIA reports which state that nothing was found, contradicting many of the claims made by conservatives who ignore such reports. The frequency with which conservatives repeat such falsehoods about WMD is probably why this was a major example used in the linked report.

    The entertainers you cite have following as entertainers, not political experts. Oprah’s influence comes from her ability to give people access to a large audience. You have not shown any examples of misinformation given by such entertainers which influences liberal policies if shown to be incorrect. On the other hand, we often see false claims from Fox and talk radio spread into the Republican talking points and beliefs. The biggest example this week alone is with Vitter following other Republicans in supporting the claims from Birthers. Beck’s influence is greatest with the Tea Party, but we now see many Republicans trying awfully hard to echo their views.

    Your comments on diplomacy also demonstrate an example of selectively reading the news to verify your position, even if counter to fact, while twisting what is reported. Of course Democrats support diplomacy–it would be crazy not to recognize the value of diplomacy. This is not the same as suggesting that they believe it will be effective to negotiate with Islalmic extremists. Democrats have advocated a wide variety of measures to deal with terrorism, including diplomacy to achieve international cooperation, police action, and military action–but as a last resort. Diplomacy with moderate elements of the Islamic world is helpful to reduce the influence of the extremists. Diplomacy is of value in gaining the cooperation of other countries. Diplomacy is also of considerable value in other areas beyond dealing with extremists. This includes much of the Middle East as well as other parts of the world.

  11. 11
    Patrick says:

    Great debate. Thank you.

    Evidently we have reached a point wherein we both feel that the other is making our point for us. Interesting.

    I have come to understand that you are more comfortable than I am with critiquing and manipulating “facts” and sources so as to advance your own point of view while simultaneously claiming that others, who may not share your view, are misinformed.

    On the other hand, I am quite comfortable with the fact that others may have a different take on the major issues of our time than do I and I do not feel that such a circumstance necessarily means that said people must be misinformed.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    You have it rather backwards. I don’t manipulate facts to advance my point of view. I use facts to formulate my opinions, and have at times made changes in my opinions when dictated by the facts.

    In contrast the conservative movement (along with the far left) is dominated by ideologues who start with their viewpoints and then twist the facts to support their views.

  13. 13
    Brian says:

    Patrick–How can you possibly believe you have made your point against Ron.

    You repeat unfounded claims about WMD and ignore the actual government reports which prove you wrong

    You promoted the right wing revisionist history re separation of church & state and Ron demonstrated that your claims of evidence was mistaken.

    You repeat all the global warming denialism fed by the petro industry to the right wingers while ignoring the actual scientific evidence.

    You made multipe false claims about liberal beliefs and persisted in this even when Ron showed that your evidence contradicts your biases.

    As Ron said, you present a perfect example of someone who ignores the facts.

    phastphil–The study is consistent with Lakoff’s view that arguing with facts alone will not change people’s minds. Unfortuantely it does not prove that Lakeoff’s approach will be any more successful.  

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, that’s the problem. We know what doesn’t work. We also know that the type of distortion of the facts which is common on the right does work, but we don’t want to resort to such tactics. I think we do need to pay attention to ideas suggested by others, such as George Lakoff. Unfortunately we can’t be sure that this will work any better than the fact-based arguments which are more commonly used (often unsuccessfully) by liberal writings.

  15. 15
    Jim says:

    I strongly recommend the book “Conservatives Without Conscience” by John Dean (http://www.amazon.com/Conserva.....038;sr=1-1). He describes a whole body of research dating from shortly after the end of the Second World War examining this phenomenon. No facts or reason will sway what he refers to as the “Right Wing Authoritarian (which includes far left as well)” personality from their beliefs.

  16. 16
    Sam says:

    You have to be out of touch with reality, or at least very gullible, to buy any of the conservative line to begin with. I shouldn’t come as a surprise that these people are not going to be influenced by the facts after they have embraced a world view which is counter to fact.

    How many times can Patrick be told that his claims on WMD is directly contrary to all the actual evidence–and the rest of what he says is also a lot of bunk. It really is a waste of time to discuss things with people like him who are out of touch with reality. If someone like Patrick has ignored all the real reports which have come out showing there was no WMD at the time of the invasion they are not going to accept the fact now that their world view is based upon lies.

  17. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sam, You are right–it is a waste of time to bother with the hard core right wingers. Patrick has certainly demonstrated that the true believers (both far right and far left) are not going to pay the slightest bit of attention to any facts which contradict their fantasy world view.

    On the other hand I still believe (or at least hold onto the illusion) that there are some rational people in the world who can be persuaded by facts and reason (even if not those on the extremes) which makes the blog posts which deal in these issues in more depth of some potential value.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jim, Agreed, Conservatives Without Conscience was a great book.

    During the height of Watergate I would have never predicted that the Republicans would become so extreme and authoritarian that Nixon would no longer be out of the mainstream, or that John Dean would be one of the writers helping to expose the authoritarian right.

  19. 19
    Robert Mills says:

    RT @TopsyRT: Academic Study of Ideologues Ignoring The Facts #p2 http://bit.ly/cWyxkM

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