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Psychology of debunking myths

  1. Nov 13, 2014 #1

    jedishrfu

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  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2014 #2
    Important discussion! Shows how important critical thinking is these days. I really feel it's a lost art. Too many people are duped by viral sham stories on Facebook. It's a real problem.
     
  4. Nov 13, 2014 #3

    jedishrfu

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    For me one of the biggest was the vaccination and autism question where parents are now gambling with their children's lives by not following doctor recommended vaccine schedules or selectively choosing which ones to take. Now hospitals are seeing increased cases of childhood diseases long thought to be virtually eradicated.

    The one study that made the autism connection was withdrawn from the literature and the author charged with fraud but it still surfaces causing doubt and confusion.

    Another one occurred in Texas where a man was convicted and sentenced to death for a fire in his home that killed his children. Faulty fire forensics was presented but was later found to be completely wrong in its conclusion but the Governor didn't see fit to cancel the execution.
     
  5. Nov 14, 2014 #4
    This is something which interests me too.

    Two more links on the topic:
     
  6. Nov 14, 2014 #5

    OCR

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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
  7. Nov 14, 2014 #6

    lisab

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    The problem becomes immeasurably stickier when you mix in politics.

    Do you lean right-wing? You must be against human-caused climate change.

    Do you lean left-wing? You must be against genetically modified foods.

    You are betraying your tribe if you ever, EVER read anything other than your tribe's viewpoint.
     
  8. Nov 14, 2014 #7

    WWGD

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    And most people think of themselves as being open-minded skeptics, and anyone
    who disagrees with them is closed-minded and irrational.

    I suggested a while back, if possible, if together with its tutorial in argument and fallacies PF could include a list of biases like fundamental attribution error, confirmation bias, etc., because correct reasoning together with false premises is a nasty combo. Maybe it is too much work to make up such list.

    EDIT: Here is my small contribution to a list of biases:

    https://www.google.com/#q=list of cognitive biases

    Could be interesting to train high school kids to avoid these biases. But then the teachers
    will not stand the kids.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  9. Nov 15, 2014 #8
    I liked this quote, from your second link:

    "In an ideal world, citizens would be able to maintain constant vigilance, monitoring both the information they receive and the way their brains are processing it. But keeping atop the news takes time and effort. And relentless self-questioning, as centuries of philosophers have shown, can be exhausting. Our brains are designed to create cognitive shortcuts — inference, intuition, and so forth — to avoid precisely that sort of discomfort while coping with the rush of information we receive on a daily basis. Without those shortcuts, few things would ever get done. Unfortunately, with them, we’re easily suckered by political falsehoods."

    It really is just too exhausting to check everything thoroughly, and you have to fall back on 'shortcuts'. Some people on the other end of the spectrum opt to check nothing and focus instead on just being in touch with what 'everyone is saying,' which is sometimes, weirdly, more important than the truth.
     
  10. Nov 15, 2014 #9
    I think we need a third big Hollywood movie based on the premise that we only use 10% of our brains. And I hope they make sure to include the "fact" that Einstein used more than 10%.
     
  11. Nov 15, 2014 #10

    Astronuc

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    Thanks WWGD, that's a great idea!

    My that's a long list. oo)
     
  12. Nov 15, 2014 #11

    Astronuc

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    Critical thinking is supposed to be part of an education.

    On the other hand, I started learning in elementary school, but more so in junior high and high school, that the system or authority does not like to be challenged.

    Critical thinkers (or skeptics or informed public) are less susceptible to propaganda and manipulation. On a personal level, one needs to be aware of one's ideology or ontology.
     
  13. Nov 15, 2014 #12

    WWGD

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    There is the additional caveat that those who question pay a price for this, since, like Astronuc said,
    those in power do not always like this. So going along will usually make one's life easier.
     
  14. Nov 15, 2014 #13

    WWGD

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    But maybe a better education system could train students. The better -trained you are, the easier it becomes over time. But many societies do not have a favorable disposition towards those who bring up unpleasant issues and expose wrongs, flaws of that society. Maybe in
    a more enlightened society, questioning could be seen as a favorable thing, and would be reinforced, instead of being looked-at unfavorably. I think many people are not willing to pay
    the price of going against the grain; being an outsider can be a very lonely experience, and many do just-about whatever it takes to avoid it. I guess at some level, I think most often not
    a conscious level, at some point in their lives, people make choices of this sort.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  15. Nov 15, 2014 #14

    WWGD

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    I admire Robert Reich in this respect :Whether you agree with Reich's ideology, he recently stated that he had chosen to meet periodically with someone who disagreed with him in order to force himself to challenge his own beliefs. If only more people were willing to do that, the world would be a better place. Sadly, at least at this moment the state of affairs is more like that described in a line from Metallica's "Eye of the Beholder": ....fighting the truth, winning is all....

    There is a short-term benefit to believing one is right; it reinforces one's self-esteem, and it gives one a (however false) sense of security , in giving one the belief that understands how the world works. Unfortunately, in the longer run, one may end up paying a price for an inaccurate and distorted view of the world, and one may stunt one's intellectual growth by resisting challenges. I have made a concerted effort to avoid having this happen to me, but I have had trouble finding people who can disagree without being disagreeable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
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