Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes


by Andre
Tags: news
Andre
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#1
Sep5-10, 12:17 PM
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I have some good news and some bad news, the bad news is that good news is not believed. Obviously it is good news that bad news is generally believed.

...The public tends not to trust scientists, says research from California - but there's a twist. People are mainly reluctant to believe good news, it turns out - such as the message that a flu vaccine is safe. But the public is more likely to trust the researchers who frighten with bad news...
Obviously that makes it only one way where the body of public knowledge is going, deepest doom and gloom. Or?
Phys.Org News Partner Social sciences news on Phys.org
Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed
Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for
Can new understanding avert tragedy?
lisab
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#2
Sep5-10, 12:25 PM
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Hmm, I can't get that link to work.
Andre
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#3
Sep5-10, 12:30 PM
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Me neither and this is the second one that fails when tested. That's bad news, so you'll believe that. The good news is, believe it or not, that you can find multiple places with the article, when googling:

"u.s. study says people are hesitant"

But I have no idea why those links don't work anymore when pasted here.

Borek
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Sep5-10, 12:40 PM
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Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes


Quote Quote by lisab View Post
Hmm, I can't get that link to work.
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/...984/story.html

Try now, I have removed / added at the end.
lisab
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Sep5-10, 12:52 PM
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Quote Quote by Borek View Post
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/...984/story.html

Try now, I have removed / added at the end.
Ah, that works .
Evo
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Sep5-10, 01:16 PM
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The study just confirms what I always believed, that people want to hear and believe bad news, they want to be scared, it's why horror movies are so popular.

If research is posted that says something is safe or even good for you, it fizzles off of the internet overnight. If you make it sound bad, it goes viral. Everyone is an expert when it comes to spreading negative information.
lisab
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#7
Sep5-10, 02:02 PM
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This ties into something we've discussed many times on these forums: the general public seems completely unprepared to rationally judge risk. So they believe getting vaccinated is dangerous, but tailgate while travelling 70 mph on the freeway.
Ivan Seeking
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#8
Sep5-10, 02:41 PM
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Well, I think you have part of your answer contained within the article.

The work is based on a public opinion survey of 1,475 Californians to assess whether people trust safety studies on offshore oil drilling. It predates this summerís massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but offshore oil drilling has been a hot political issue in California for years.

The analysis from professors at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that people tended to disregard much of what the safety studies found. The limited amount they did believe tended to be the parts that showed dangers were worse than they had feared...
But we did see a catastrophic spill in the gulf that was never supposed to be possible [which is why there was no way to manage the leak]. Beyond that, we see people desperate the dismiss the whole thing as inconsequential, while the science says that we have no idea how much damage has been done, but it could be profound. So here we see people leaping to "safe" conclusions that are in direct opposition to the science. So here we see a counter-example to the conclusions of the report.

In part it becomes a matter of trust based on past peformance. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

One personal example: I was taught that the expansion of the universe was, beyond any doubt, slowing down. Then, like magic, it was suddenly accelerating and always had been! What I was taught as fact, was patently false. Will I ever have the confidence in science that I once did? Not a chance. While it may be true that those working at the highest levels understood that acceleration was within the margin of error for the meausrements on which the models were based, to the best of my knowledge, this was never once conveyed to the public. It is probably fair to say that the facts about this were misrepresented in every, or nearly every text book in the world. Not to say it was due to any kind of conspiracy, but the fact remains that we were taught false information as a fact. I for one will never forget this.

If someone gives us good information, there is no instictive response for self-preservation. If the news is bad, then we might feel the need to protect ourselves. The former requires no action, whereas the latter may required immediate and definitive action. From there, when can we feel confident that there is no threat; when 1 scientist says so; ten; a thousand? When can we have the confidence required to say that there is no risk, so I have no need to protect myself and my family? If there is one guy out there screaming that the world is about to end, dare I ignore him when everything could be at risk? It is a pefectly natural response to be skeptical about claims that all is right with the world. We all exist today because our ancient ancestors were paranoid.
Andre
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#9
Sep6-10, 06:15 AM
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So how about this scenario? Based upon the assumptions that scientific researchers are also tending to believe bad news, more than good news.

So suppose the conclusion of this particular, hypothetical, research is inconclusive, it could be this, which would be good news, it could also be that, which would be bad news (recognisable?). Although maybe more signs suggest the good news, the bad news cannot be excluded. Obviously words along these lines are in the published report.

So the interested public gets worried, -including scientific researchers in related fields-, believing the bad news and more research is done, increasing the level of inconclusiveness significantly; it's a definite maybe. Eventually commissions are formed and plans are made how to deal with the bad news.

Now suppose that somebody scrutinized the orginal research and found some deeply hidden errors, which would elimate the original bad news assumption, is that good news? Will he be believed? What are his chances?
lisab
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Sep6-10, 09:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Andre View Post
So how about this scenario? Based upon the assumptions that scientific researchers are also tending to believe bad news, more than good news.

So suppose the conclusion of this particular, hypothetical, research is inconclusive, it could be this, which would be good news, it could also be that, which would be bad news (recognisable?). Although maybe more signs suggest the good news, the bad news cannot be excluded. Obviously words along these lines are in the published report.

So the interested public gets worried, -including scientific researchers in related fields-, believing the bad news and more research is done, increasing the level of inconclusiveness significantly; it's a definite maybe. Eventually commissions are formed and plans are made how to deal with the bad news.

Now suppose that somebody scrutinized the orginal research and found some deeply hidden errors, which would elimate the original bad news assumption, is that good news? Will he be believed? What are his chances?
An example of something like this is the public's seemingly unshakable belief that immunizations cause autism. In this case the scientific community has worked to correct the error, but once a "fact" is established in the public's head it's very hard to ferret it out, even if it's proved to be wrong.
Andre
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#11
Sep6-10, 10:02 AM
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Maybe time will tell, if there are much more far reaching examples of such a scenario.
OmCheeto
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Sep6-10, 10:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
The study just confirms what I always believed, that people want to hear and believe bad news, they want to be scared, it's why horror movies are so popular.

If research is posted that says something is safe or even good for you, it fizzles off of the internet overnight. If you make it sound bad, it goes viral. Everyone is an expert when it comes to spreading negative information.
It's funny though, there is a situation where this can come in handy. The stock market specifically. I know that may sound ludicrous, but I've been watching things and getting input from people I know regarding my stocks, as I am very new at this. One person told me that I should sell my favorite stock because it always goes down, and that I should buy something else. This was after I explained the reason for the companies negative cash flow, and how I expected sales for the company to increase 20 fold in the next 2 years. Another person that I am acquainted with did something similar. She took all of her husbands retirement funds and put them into one stock. It went up for a bit, but then started rocketing downward. She sold it before it went too far down and broke even. The health of the company was meaningless. It was pure panic. If she'd have kept the money in that stock, she'd have doubled her money in the last 12 months.

It's sad, but I think the same kind of "oh my god, run for your lives from the invisible boogie monster!" mentality is keeping the economy in the doldrums. People are so frightened by the prospect of losing their jobs that they are hoarding money at unheard of levels, which only makes things worse for everyone. And what is it that makes them frightened? Rumors of a double dip recession? A certain set of TV fear mongers? A certain group of traditional afternoon British drink rabble rousers?

Why do people listen to that stuff? And follow it's lead?

I don't know.

But tomorrow, I'm buying more of that stock my friend told me to dump last month.

--------------------------------

When life gives you lemons, order a Corona.
Alex_Sanders
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#13
Sep19-10, 06:37 AM
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Better safe than sorry.


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