I saw a bumper sticker around 2008 that said “Fox News Where Facts Don’t Matter”. Now we see the results of “fake news”. But, what about in a smaller level?
I was amazed at the facts that were presented to my community about a serious issue made no difference in the decisions they made. A new family moved in and wanted to belong so much that they seemed, to me, ignore the data and get involved with something I would call risky. They are educated people and work in fields that deal with people and many situations. That didn’t matter. Questioning or curiosity or finding out what really happened was second place to not wanting to appear like we were not an ideal community. They love living there (which is great) but they jumped in with how most were feeling – don’t rock the boat. Don’t look under rocks for where some deep problems exist.
I wonder if they wonder if that ignorance is bliss attitude contributed to why more people are leaving? Or they just want to continue living with all the positive and hope and believe that nothing else happens, ever. Believe me, I wish it never happened. I could have stayed and lived in peace too but unfortunately, I was made aware and took action (which wasn’t appreciated, obviously)
So, New York Times has an article about what I have been thinking – belonging is more important than facts. Here are two paragraphs:
Why are misperceptions about contentious issues in politics and science seemingly so persistent and difficult to correct?” Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College political scientist, posed in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It’s not for want of good information, which is ubiquitous. Exposure to good information does not reliably instill accurate beliefs anyway. Rather, Dr. Nyhan writes, a growing body of evidence suggests that the ultimate culprits are “cognitive and memory limitations, directional motivations to defend or support some group identity or existing belief, and messages from other people and political elites.”
Then the article describes perfectly what happened to me – scapegoat someone!
“Put more simply, people become more prone to misinformation when …. First, and perhaps most important, is when conditions in society make people feel a greater need for what social scientists call ingrouping — a belief that their social identity is a source of strength and superiority, and that other groups can be blamed for their problems.
As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup.
This need can emerge especially out of a sense of social destabilization. As a result, misinformation is often prevalent among communities that feel destabilized by unwanted change or, in the case of some minorities, powerless in the face of dominant forces.
Framing everything as a grand conflict against scheming enemies can feel enormously reassuring. And that’s why perhaps the greatest culprit of our era of misinformation may be, more than any one particular misinformer, the era-defining rise in social polarization.
Growing hostility between the two halves of America feeds social distrust, which makes people more prone to rumor and falsehood. It also makes people cling much more tightly to their partisan identities. And once our brains switch into “identity-based conflict” mode, we become desperately hungry for information that will affirm that sense of us versus them, and much less concerned about things like truth or accuracy.”
The article was in today’s New York Times, May 7, 2021.
‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation