Feb. 7th, 2017

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Found an interesting article regarding how people view and interpret facts and information.

Why Each Side of the Partisan Divide Thinks the Other is Living in an Alternate Reality




To return to Trump’s supporters: Many identify strongly with him and many see themselves as part of a new political movement. For this reason, they probably want to avoid new findings that suggest their movement isn’t as strong as it appears.

Remember those findings that many Trump supporters believe that he won the popular vote? Among Trump supporters, one poll suggests that 52 percent also believe that millions of votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election, a claim Trump himself made to explain his popular vote loss.

Accepting that their candidate lost the popular vote challenges deeply held beliefs that the nation has come together with a mandate for Trump’s presidency and policies. Information that conflicts with this view – that suggests a majority of Americans don’t support Trump, or that people protesting Trump are somehow either “fake” or paid agitators – poses a threat to these worldviews. As a result, his supporters avoid it.

Information avoidance doesn’t address why different people believe different things, how misinformation spreads and what can be done about it.

But ignoring the effects of information avoidance and discussing only ignorance and stubbornness does us all a disservice by framing the problem in partisan terms. When people on the left believe that only right wingers are at risk of changing the facts to suit their opinions, they become less skeptical of their own beliefs and more vulnerable to their own side’s misconceptions and misinformation.

Research suggests there are three ways to combat information avoidance. First, before asking people to listen to threatening information, affirmation – or making people feel good about themselves – has proven effective. Next, it’s important to make people feel in control over what they get to do with that information. And lastly, people are more open to information if it’s framed in a way that resonates with how they see the world, their values and their identities.

It’s crucial to recognize the all-too-human tendency to put our fingers in our ears when we hear something we don’t like. Only then can we move away from a media and cultural environment in which everyone is entitled to not just their own opinions but also their own facts.


Other examples of information avoidance? The way parishioners ignored the Catholic Church Priest Scandal as did the Church itself, in regards to priests molesting children for years, until the Boston Globe uncovered it, and even then, ignored it. How New England Patriots fans ignore the fact that their team cheats, has multiple penalities, and the coach plays the game in an unethical manner. Penn State fans ignored and contested the information coming out regarding their coaches.

Or even in fandoms, when shippers and fans refuse to acknowledge the direction a narrative is heading? Or refuse to see the flaws in the narrative or critique it?

The movie LA LA LAND sort of comments on it as well as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a tendency to superimpose what we want to believe is true on what actually is. Episodes of Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek the Next Generation, Farscape, BattleStar Galatica, and Lost, to just name a few have also explored this extensively. As have various sci-fi and fantasy writers.

But what to do about it? How do we rip away the veil, question our world, and cope with its reality?
How do we question what we believe?

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