This is a fascinating piece by Chris Mooney about how using factual assertions does not, in fact, change people’s minds.
December 21 arrived without incident…. How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted? At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they’d all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials’ new pronouncement: “The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction.” Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!
From a 1950s doomsday cult to global-warning deniers and antivaxxers, we believe what we want to believe. Science is, in many ways, a struggle to overcome our own personal biases and allow the truth to shine through.
[via Adam Engst]