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One of the problems with the example in the article is that it is explicitly designed to fool people in a hurry. (Even if you know maths.) It exploits well known heuristic issues in it's presentation.

So I'm not all that impressed with it.

On the other hand, the "more info doesn't help" research is fairly well founded. What works is to find alternative narratives. And (unfortunately) what also works is brute force repetition of narratives, as practiced by the right wing media.

You point to the context problem with your objections, but I'd expand on that. The right-wing media have helped create a complete distrust of supplied information. Their dominance makes those on the left distrust information supplied by supposedly neutral sources. And of course Fox et al. spend plenty of time reminding right-wingers that info from other sources can't be trusted...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 02:26:22 PM EST
I wonder: were people in the developed world irrational on this level a few decades ago, or is this an effect of the fracturing of the public sphere into groups providing confirmation bias and quickly constructing whole mythologies with the advent of private media and the internet?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 02:55:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a good question.
It's really hard to know - the flip side is that we don't have a record of what people thought so much. We know about politically active people, but not so much about ordinary people. At least not to speak generally, I'm sure we can all collect data points...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 03:11:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, to create this type of test at all, one probably has to use a heuristic, otherwise everyone would get it right all the time and you couldn't see the "more skill fails to help". So I suppose I could live with that.

My qualm is the false symmetry. Conservatives fail to detect the message from genuine figures, Liberals from false ones (I could maybe even suggest they filtered them).
It does not get better with the rest of the article: Liberals were more likely to say that a scientist was an expert in his subject if his research underscored the dangers of climate change, conservatives if he cast doubt on them. Well, most people cannot judge the resume of a top scientist, but many do know that pretty much no climate scientist reject global warming.
So a Bayesian view, at least, would lead to consider it unlikely that the person was a subject expert. Contrast that with the Conservatives who require one to trumpet lies in order to be given credibility. That is a very different dynamic.

I know that facts have a liberal bias, which might explain why researchers find it hard to come up with a simple case of a liberal belief that clashes with data. But could the causation not run the other way? Maybe facts have a liberal bias because Liberals tend to form their beliefs with consideration for facts. That would be the opposite of what Klein was talking about of course, and the artificial balance reflex is still strong...

As for doubting mainstream media, yes, I admit to that. Although not from a tribal reaction -I caught them red-handed twice in a single week back when I was 16. But my reaction is to seek peer-reviewed articles, independent and cross-examined websites, and check that publications that I read are particularly careful to conclude when they "like" the conclusion. Surely that is not the same as only watching Fox News and believing everything it says.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 02:28:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that we've all learned to be suspicious of information - and the test simply presents information. It's a test, so I'm not (I presume) allowed to go Google for peer-reviewed articles on the topic. So my "Bayesian priors" are automatically to give priority to info I already know. Which I think pretty much gives you the results of this study...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 04:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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