little green footballs

Why We Lie (Mostly Because It Works)

Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:50:36 pm

National Geographic published an article some time ago on why lying seems to work, even when the recipient is presented with true information afterward.

Noteworthy in the article is this bit:

A recent study led by Briony Swire-Thompson, a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology at the University of Western Australia, documents the ineffectiveness of evidence-based information in refuting incorrect beliefs. In 2015 Swire-Thompson and her colleagues presented about 2,000 adult Americans with one of two statements: “Vaccines cause autism” or “Donald Trump said that vaccines cause autism.” (Trump has repeatedly suggested there’s a link, despite the lack of scientific evidence for it.)

Not surprisingly, participants who were Trump supporters showed a decidedly stronger belief in the misinformation when it had Trump’s name attached to it. Afterward the participants were given a short explanation—citing a large-scale study—for why the vaccine-autism link was false, and they were asked to reevaluate their belief in it. The participants—across the political spectrum—now accepted that the statements claiming the link were untrue, but testing them again a week later showed that their belief in the misinformation had bounced back to nearly the same level.

The article isn't dealing specifically with Donald Trump, but lying in general and why it seems to reinforce pre-conceived notions. The article has many other examples of cognitive bias, along with the stories of some famous liars in the XX Century.

The Vaccine Poison Tree