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Two articles when read together are pretty worrying...


The Most Depressing Discovery About the Brain, Ever

http://www.alternet.org/media/most-depressing-discovery-about-brain-ever

What I Learned From Debating Science With TrollsRead more at http://www.iflscience.com/environment/what-i-learned-debating-science-trolls#akvq2TOmxOLFhIga.99

glum

Stashed in: Your argument is invalid.

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When people are misinformed, giving them facts to correct those errors only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously.

this is true, generally

Then the best way to deal with misinformed people is to not engage them at all?

no, its to engage strategically and try to make information accessible. 

But information only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously. 

Just wondering if polarization is a one way street. What does it take to turn someone who is well on the way to a fully formed bias?

Some excerpts from: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney

"A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes.

An array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.

The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect"). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a "basic human survival skill," explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.

Consider a person who has heard about a scientific discovery that deeply challenges her belief in divine creation—a new hominid, say, that confirms our evolutionary origins. What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. "They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs," says Taber, "and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing."

In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing.

And as a footnote...“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” George Orwell.

Right. It's better to focus on people with more open minds.

Otherwise you're really just talking to yourself. 

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