Good news, No - Bad news, Yes

  1. Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.

    Obviously that makes it only one way where the body of public knowledge is going, deepest doom and gloom. Or?
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    Hmm, I can't get that link to work.
  4. Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.
  5. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

  6. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.
  8. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.
  9. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,539
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    Well, I think you have part of your answer contained within the article.

    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.
  10. Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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?
  11. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.
  12. Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    Maybe time will tell, if there are much more far reaching examples of such a scenario.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  13. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 2,197
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    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.
  14. Re: Good news, No -- Bad news, Yes

    Better safe than sorry.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?