Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why You Believe Saddam Attacked the US on 9/11

Fascinating article in today's WaPo by Sankar Vedantam that examines and explains why so many people still believe that Saddam attacked us on 9/11. That the terrorists were Iraqi. Or, why large percentages of Muslims around the world believe that the towers were destroyed by a controlled demolition and the Pentagon struck by a missile. The article references Univ./Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz's recent study in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology.

Apparently repetition helps drive an idea or concept into our brains, and even when faced with solid evidence against it, people can continue to believe that concept "especially those who want to believe the myth for their own reasons, or those who are only peripherally interested and are less likely to invest the time & effort needed to firmly grasp the facts." This subconscious filing of information can be manipulated by those clever enough (thank you Karl Rove) to do so.

"The research also highlights the disturbing reality that once an idea has been implanted in people's minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can paradoxically reinforce it. Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain's subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true. . . . People are not good at keeping track of which information came from credible sources and which came from less trustworthy ones, or even remembering that some information came from the same untrustworthy source over and over again. Even if a person recognizes which sources are credible and which are not, repeated assertions and denials can have the effect of making the information more accessible in memory and thereby making it feel true."

In other words, each time you tell that person you know who still believes Saddam topped the twin towers that there is ample proof Iraq had nothing to do with it, that person is apparently only hearing the words "Saddam" "twin towers" and "Iraq" and putting those phrases together with what his/her mind remembers - he did it.

So the next time you're trying to get someone to face the truth - try going the long way around. Instead of saying who didn't do it - go for who DID do it, and leave the lie out of it altogether.

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3 Comments:

Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

Great post...I'd have missed this article if you had not referenced it.
I'm reminded of Pat Moynihan's old adage, i.e. you are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. I'm afraid our leaders feel entitled to, and in fact create, their own "facts," reality be damned. They have a lot of willing listeners.

11:00 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Interesting technique LP. I'll have to try it.

Off topic, did you pick up Vick b4 someone else got to him? ;-)

2:14 PM  
Blogger LaPopessa said...

I would have tomcat, but I'm already taking a loss with my devotion to the home team.

2:36 PM  

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