Debunking debunking? | Bleader

Friday, October 19, 2007

Debunking debunking?

Posted By on 10.19.07 at 06:51 PM

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Joe Miller of Factcheck.org reflects on whether its work might be self-defeating, as suggested in the Washington Post last month.

"Debunking myths can backfire because people tend to remember the myth but forget what the debunker said about it. As Hebrew University psychologist Ruth Mayo explained to the Post, 'If you think 9/11 and Iraq, this is your association, this is what comes in your mind. Even if you say it is not true, you will eventually have this connection with Saddam Hussein and 9/11.'"

Or maybe not. Spinoza and several present-day psychologists think otherwise. Read the whole thing. Miller concludes, "Humans are not helpless automatons in the face of massive propaganda. We may initially believe whatever we hear, but we are fully capable of evaluating and rejecting beliefs that turn out not to be accurate. Our brains don’t do this naturally; maintaining a healthy skeptical attitude requires some conscious effort on our part...

"As a species, we're still pretty new to that whole process. Aristotle invented logic just 2,500 years ago -- a mere blink of the eye when compared with the 200,000 years we Homo sapiens relied on our brain's reflex responses to avoid being eaten by lions. We still have a long way to go."

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