“When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger”
These two important cognitive effects can have a significant impact on society and debates in the public sphere. They also end up negating some of the debunking and reporting work done by the press. My recent attempts to understand the backfire effect and motivated reasoning has transformed into a search for ways to combat these entrenched human phenomena.
I sought out Reifler, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia State University, to learn more about his and his colleagues’ findings regarding affirmative statements and their effect of the Obama Muslim myth. I asked him if there are other other ways of presenting information that can debunk lies.
“I’m sure that there are but I don’t know what they are,” he told me, ever the cautious researcher.
Nevertheless, he did offer some encouragement.
“I think we’re moving in that direction,” he says.