America Doomed

Drawing on this Washington Post article, MindHacks reports [d’oh, here’s the link]:

[I]f false information is presented early, it is more likely to be believed, while subsequent attempts to correct the information may, in fact, strengthen the false impression. …

[W]e [probably] tend to think information is more likely to be true the more we hear it.

Negating a statement seems just to emphasise the initial point. The additional correction seems to get lost amid the noise.

One particularly pertinent study [pdf] not mentioned in the article, looked at the effect of retractions of false news reports made during the 2003 Iraq War on American, German and Australian participants.

For example, claims that Iraqi forces executed coalition prisoners of war after they surrendered were retracted the day after the claims were made.

The study found that the American participants’ belief in the truth of an initial news report was not affected by knowledge of its subsequent retraction.

In contrast, knowing about a retraction was likely to significantly reduce belief in the initial report for Germans and Australians.

The researchers note that people are more likely to discount information if they are suspicious of the motives behind its dissemination.

The Americans rated themselves as more likely to agree with the official line that the war was to ‘destroy weapons of mass destruction’, whereas the Australian and German participants rated this as far less convincing.

Tell a lie early and often, and as long as it fits a prejudice, it will be widely believed.

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2 Responses to “America Doomed”

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    […] That said, I’m a bit ambivalent about the tone of the website.  I’m not sure that Rudy’s place in many people’s minds is going to change. […]

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