Tuesday


If you make most of your decisions based on that "hunch" you get from your guts, then you might need to reexamine your decision making strategy as your gut feeling might be misleading you, according to science.


People who rely on their intuition to assess what is true are more likely to endorse conspiracy theories and believe in fake news (i.e., the real fake news and not Trump's twisted explanation of it). What is more, these people will continue to hold tight to their ideas even after the evidence on which they were based is falsified. Conversely, individuals who seek evidence before establishing their beliefs are less prone to have misperceptions pertaining to mainstream scientific and political issues, said lead researcher Kelly Garrett, a professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

Spreading misrepresented and misleading information is one of the most dangerous factors that could hinder the creation of a well informed population, which is a necessary ingredient to a functional democracy. Over the last decade and a half, the US political landscape was largely marked by widespread approval of falsehoods. For instance, a large portion of the US population supported the baseless claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the US-led Iraq invasion. Controversy about Obama's birth certificate and the belief that climate change is merely a hoax are also prominent examples of how misperceptions can undermine the establishment of a healthy democracy.

The study measured the three aspects of epistemic beliefs: the dependence on intuition to form factual beliefs, the role of evidence in one's beliefs and the view that truth is political. The researchers asked the surveyed people about the non-existent link between vaccine and autism and the correlation between climate change and human activity.

Unsurprisingly, Garrett and the study co-author Brian Weeks of the University of Michigan, found that individuals who have a tendency to see every event as a deliberate act are more likely to support conspiracy theories. The same goes for the superstitious folks who attribute unusual events to hidden forces.

The researchers also measured the survey participants reaction to seven common conspiracy theories. The results showed that more than 45 percent said they didn't believe that president John F. Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald alone; 33 percent approved the statement that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by the US government and 32 percent agreed that Princess Diana’s death was an inside job of the British royal family.

The study revealed that holding the view that truth is political is a strong predictor of whether someone would turn to conspiracy theories.

The study lead researcher has a final bit of advice to people on how to deal with fake news. Garrett said that making an effort to base our belief system on evidence is a very simple strategy to avoid falling pray to misinformation.

Maybe Mr. Trump needs to tweet this advice only once to prevent his supporters from being manipulated by "fake news", right?
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