Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Made-up Minds

Since political beliefs are rooted in emotions, says Chris Mooney, the facts are often irrelevant

A MAN WITH a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger, in a passage that might have been referring to arguments over the president's birthplace or the causes of climate change and autism. But it was too early for all of that — this was the 1950s — and Festinger was actually describing what would become a famous case study in psychology: a group of Chicago UFO devotees who thought they were communicating with extraterrestrials.


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