Science

Facts Matter After All

Studies debunk the claim that we live in post-fact, post-truth world.

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Cplener/Dreamstime

The scientific fact that facts don't matter turns out to be factually wrong.

Sorry, let me try to put that more clearly. In a superb article at Slate, Daniel Engber revisits the research that concluded that blind partisanship and motivated reasoning are pervasive and that everyone seeks out "facts" that comport with what they already believe. Worse yet, those studies suggested that when highly ideological people are provided simultaneously with misinformation—that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, that vaccines are unsafe, that Barack Obama is a Muslim—and with corrections to the falsehoods, that paradoxically reinforces their prior belief in the false information. In other words, the correction "backfires."

But as Engber reports, scientists have had trouble replicating the research that purported to reveal a post-truth world. Facts turn out to matter after all.

Engber cites a new study, "The Elusive Backfire Effect," soon to appear in the journal Political Behavior. The researchers tested more than 10,000 subjects for backfire responses to corrections of 52 factually wrong statements made by various politicians. The factually wrong statements included Hillary Clinton's claim that gun violence is spiraling; Barack Obama's assertion that discrimination is the sole cause of the gender wage gap; Donald Trump's charge that Mexican immigrants engage disproportionately in criminal behavior; and Ted Cruz's declaration that violence against police officers is rising.

After running their experiments, the researchers report:

Across all experiments, we found no corrections capable of triggering backfire, despite testing precisely the kinds of polarized issues where backfire should be expected. Evidence of factual backfire is far more tenuous than prior research suggests. By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their ideological commitments.

Slate also points to some as-yet-unpublished research on backfire by two psychology graduate students, Andrew Guess and Alexander Coppock. Guess and Coppock showed subjects evidence about the effects of capital punishment, minimum wage increases, and gun control. The results?

Across three studies, we find no evidence of the phenomenon [of backfire]. Pro-capital-punishment evidence tends to make subjects more supportive of the death penalty and to strengthen their beliefs in its deterrent efficacy. Evidence that the death penalty increases crime does the opposite, while inconclusive evidence does not cause significant shifts in attitudes or beliefs. Arguments about the minimum wage likewise move respondents in the direction of evidence—toward supporting a higher or a lower dollar amount according to the slant of the evidence presented in the video treatments. Finally, evidence that gun control decreases gun violence makes people more supportive while evidence that it increases violence does the opposite.

In other words, people do pay attention to evidence even when it cuts against their pre-existing beliefs.

Engber notes that there has been considerable academic resistance to publishing research that questions the pervasiveness of the backfire effect:

I asked Coppock: Might there be echo chambers in academia, where scholars keep themselves away from new ideas about the echo chamber? And what if presenting evidence against the backfire effect itself produced a sort of backfire? "I really do believe my finding," Coppock said. "I think other people believe me, too." But if his findings were correct, then wouldn't all those peer reviewers have updated their beliefs in support of his conclusion? He paused for a moment. "In a way," he said, "the best evidence against our paper is that it keeps getting rejected."

Engber concludes, "It's time we came together to reject this bogus story and the ersatz science of post-truth. If we can agree on anything it should be this: The end of facts is not a fact."

As a journalist who has always believed that facts do matter and does his best to report on science and policy as accurately as possible, I heartily endorse his conclusion.

NEXT: Steady Rise in Student Perfectionism Since 1990s

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    1. Science is real, so you have to.

      1. But there is no consensus, so it must be false!

        /derp

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    2. One study? I’ll wait for the meta-study of studies 10 years from now. I can tell when someone is lying anyway.

    3. Not only do I not buy it, but the article has led me to believe in the backfire effect even more.

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  1. Uh, WMDs were actually found in Iraq. Not on the scale that it was made out to be before the war

    Amusingly, we know this because of Wikileaks

    1. Old chemical weapons he was supposed to have gotten rid of. There were no NUCLEAR weapons or evidence he was restarting the program. It is important to differentiate nuclear and chemical weapons from the overall category of WMD that includes both, and it was largely the potential nuclear program that was used to invade.

      1. Yeah “WMDs” was a bit of a bait and switch. They hype was all about Iraq developing nukes. Was anyone surprised that they still had some chemical weapons hanging around?

        1. We were also told that Hussein was actively making “mobile chemical warfare labs” that were going to be like super-sophisticated meth trailers pumping out nerve gasses. Then when they found some old weapons from the ’90s buried in a hole somewhere they said “See! See! We found WMDs after all!”

          1. They did find the mobil labs but decided to discount them because they could be used for processing other items but nobody would use a mobil lab to process legal items

          2. ‘Just having’ a few chemical weapons lying around that you were literally mandated to get rid of is itself not a good thing at all. I think people are wary of pointing out that in all reality those weapons represented a breach of a treaty that, if known concretely, would have otherwise triggered a war on it own.

            That isn’t justifying a war in Iraq, it’s just a fact that we would have likely been obligated to take some action, likely strikes, in Iraq based purely upon Saddam having explicitly prohibited weapons that he was expressly required to get rid of post Desert-Storm.

            That doesn’t make Bush right, but is sure as shit makes Saddam wrong. In hind-sight, of course, it’s questionable if removing Saddam under any circumstances was that wise of a move of course. But that’s using knowledge we couldn’t possibly have had at the time.

            1. It depends on what you mean by “mass destruction”.

      2. Dude. Bush had bad sources and everyone pretty much agrees in hindsight that the invasion was a bad idea. Why move the goalposts regarding nuclear vs. chemical?

        1. everyone pretty much agrees in hindsight

          Too bad they didn’t listen to those of us who knew it was a bad idea to begin with.

        2. WTF?

          If “everyone” knew the invasion was such a bad idea why’d they keep pouring bodies, bombs and money in for 5+ fucking more years?

      3. Look, if a weapon of mass destruction is defined by the US government as a pipe bomb, then Iraq had lots of WMDs.

      4. You might want to read Powell’s UN thing. No claims of nuclear weapons. Numerous claims about chemical and biological weapons.

      5. There was never any contention that Saddam had nukes. Only that he was seeking to revive their research program.

      6. In fact, Saddam Hussein was required by the last cease-fire to have gotten rid of all his chemical weapons, no matter what state they were in. Their existence single-handedly provides the justification for invasion.

      7. I just went back and skimmed GB’s speech to the UN assembly, and NUCLEAR weapons were only a part of the laundry list used to justify invading Iraq. They certainly were not on the top of the list.

        As I remember it, seen through the fog of many years of alcohol indulgence, the media jumped on the WMD angle and it seemed to have traction with the polled public, so GW ran with it and tended to ignore the other points he brought up in his speech.

        Not the best tactic in retrospect, but marketing is what it is, and it got the initial result he wanted.

    2. Also – For instance, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion was closely associated with support for President Bush (Kull, Ramsay, and Lewis 2003). (from the linked report) is not quite a case of “just believing stuff because it was politically aligned”.

      I’m old enough to remember people on the Left arguing against the war because they also believed Iraq had chemical weapons and were scaremongering about them being used.

      (Wikileaks? Hell, I recall boring old news media reporting on chemical weapons finds.)

      Further, I also read the Robb-Silberman report on the Intel situation and “did mean ol’ President Bush lie us into war?”, and even it admitted the intel was at worst equivocal, and that there was no pressure to fake results.

      With all that, and Iraq stonewalling to convince the Iranians it still had WMDs, to deter Iranian invasion, it was perfectly plausible and reasonable to believe had a secret WMD program; it was trying to make Iran think so!

      That the world’s intelligence agencies, peaceniks, and President Bush all ended up believing it is, indeed, a victory of misinformation; just deliberate misinformation by the Iraqi government as part of brinksmanship with Iran.

      In the end, a rather awful miscalculation on their part, of course.

      1. Not to mention the awfulness of the Bushies actually doing the invading.

        1. Don’t worry, your awfulness exceeds them all, Tony.

      2. (Wikileaks? Hell, I recall boring old news media reporting on chemical weapons finds.)

        There’s no doubt that not only did the Halabja chemical attack occur, it was the largest use of such weapons against civilians to date. IMO, I kinda consider it to be a bit of a wash. Hussein believed he had WMDs. Through collusion or plain old groupthink, the international community believed he had WMDs. At this point the *fact* that there were “no WMDs” is a bit like knowing that there is definitively no celestial tea kettle and, as such, we should/shouldn’t endeavor on such follies as travelling to Mars or visiting nearby asteroids.

        And it’s not like we haven’t been sold and knowingly bought a bill of goods before or since. The whole time we were being led to believe that Iraq was developing nuclear and/or chemical weapons technology, however falsely, we were simultaneously be deceived about North Korean disarmament by the other side of the aisle.

      3. I’m old enough to remember

        It wasn’t that long ago.

        But I guess someone who’s 25 now was 10 when the war started. Yikes.

      4. But I also remember KNOWING full well that the Iraq WMD story was a false pretext from the beginning. The whole point was to get a US puppet government in there and WMD was the excuse for the invasion. It was just so fucking blatantly obvious, I don’t get how “everyone” was fooled.

        1. It was just so fucking blatantly obvious, I don’t get how “everyone” was fooled.

          ^ This.

          1. Exactly. For me, I knew it was BS when Powell went to the UN to justify the need for invasion and pulled out those photos. I said “That’s it? That’s the best the CIA could come up with?” I was expecting some damning evidence at that presentation if the claims were true.

            1. I was convinced by what the lefties said about Saddam during the Lewinsky ‘matter’.

        2. Ever hear of the Tonkin Gulf?

        3. I knew from the start WMDs were the looted Kuwaiti-baby incubators of the Second Invasion.

          I totally opposed the first war and half-ass supported the second, at first, thinking it would end the whole thing that had been dragging on for a decade. I figured they’d fuck it up abit but I had no idea how bad.

      5. I’m old enough to remember people on the Left arguing against the war because they also believed Iraq had chemical weapons and were scaremongering about them being used.

        I was 31 when we invaded Iraq, and I literally don’t remember even one single person, Left or Right, making this argument.

        What I remember coming from the Left was “No Blood For Oil!” which I regarded as essentially equivalent to “I have no idea what’s going on!”

        1. I remember some experts being interviewed on TV (CNN maybe?) who claimed that if the US invaded we could take massive casualties from Saddam’s chemical arsenal. I don’t really know if he was Left wing or not, but he was definitely anti-invasion.

          1. We actually expected heavy casualties from Desert Storm. The those enlisted armored bulldozer operators, who didn’t know they were cannon fodder, rolled through the Iraqi lines like Panzers through Poland.

    3. “t weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq,”

      Chemical weapons were found in Iraq. Old ones sure. But it’s a lie to say that none were found. So, exactly which way does the misinformation run.

      If Chemical weapons were found, and a Conservative heard this on Fox and says Yes.

      And if a Liberal proclaims none were found.

      Then who is right and who is wrong.

      1. The policy of the US has always been that WMD includes nukes, germs, and chemicals. No distinction.

      2. They are both liars and cheats.

        The conservative is saying it was worth the war to prevent a handful of old weapons in an abandoned depot in East Bumfuck province that weren’t on the inventory rosters from being given to Al Queda by Saddam.

        The liberal is technically wrong, but correct that the war was not justified based on the causes given.

  2. Always he especially skeptical of results that adhere to what you expected.

  3. So, like all of climate science (and the soft sciences, honestly), the results of “experiments” cannot be verified or replicated?

    1. What experiments do you expect to see in climate science? We don’t have multiple Earths to provide for laboratory-type controls. What we do have are decades of observations and increasing sophistication of observation methods.

      What you don’t get is that you’re making a positive claim about the nature of physics that is infinitely more outlandish than any simple observation that increasing heat-trapping gases increases heat.

      1. Their short-term predictions could be right once in a while.

      2. You are right that climate science is largely observational, as opposed to experimental. But climate science does produce models that can make testable predictions

        1. And when the tests don’t work as predicted, you just predict a bigger apocalypse the next time, blacklist the “deniers”, ban them from “respected publications”, and refuse to acknowledge evidence that might contradict your thesis.

          1. Yep, Lather, rinse, repeat, and double down. The warmists learned this strategy from the feminists.

      3. We don’t have multiple Earths to provide for laboratory-type controls.

        And we’ve been stuck with this one fucking gravitational constant, planck distance, speed of light in a vacuum, impedance of a vacuum, etc. since, like, forever! When will we finally be free of all these tyrannical fixed variables and be able to do some real fucking science? Anybody can work with a circle who’s ratio of circumference to diameter is exactly Pi. It’s not until the ratio of the two gets up to like four or five that you start to get real and sensibly repeatable results.

        Like those hacks who just keep fucking around with the one human genome. Do some fucking science wouldja?

      4. Decades of observations, you say? On a 4.5 billion year old planet?

        1. The scale is more obvious if you express it as:

          10’s of years out of 4,500,000,000 years.

          Although, funnily, 400 parts per million sounds a lot less scary when expressed as 4/100ths of one percent.

          Math confuses a lot of proggies, which is why the carpetbaggers use it to scare them.

      5. What experiments do you expect to see in climate science?

        If their models were ever accurate, that’d help. You can enter information from history and they’d still churn out wrong data for times where we know what happened.

        What you don’t get is that you’re making a positive claim about the nature of physics that is infinitely more outlandish than any simple observation that increasing heat-trapping gases increases heat.

        The evidence of said heating seems kinda specious. You’d think it wouldn’t be if it, you know, was occurring.

  4. So, like all of climate science (and the soft sciences, honestly), the results of “experiments” cannot be verified or replicated?

    1. Only squirrels replicate.

        1. I was hoping for a Rickroll. Christ, what a disappointment.

          1. Fun fact: Citizen X has already said this same sentence to his boss three times this year.

            1. Hopefully his boss is named Rick.

    2. The models are right, especially when they’re not predictive, because shut up.

      1. They’ve been back-tested. On data gathered before we had reliable instruments, so the old data had to be adjusted to fit the models, and then the models predicted EXACTLY what really happened.

  5. Ha, I knew that this “post-truth” stuff was MSM spin trying to cover for Hillary’s defeat!

    /sarc

    1. Or perhaps /meta-sarc, because I *do* believe it’s a go-to excuse by the Hillaryites, but at the same time I acknowledge that these preconceptions are reinforced by this study, which of course can be said to contradict the study…never mind…

      1. Hillary lost because of Russian hacking, sexism, GamerGate, racism (against Mexican immigrants), Islamophobia (which is a form of racism), manufactured “scandals” about e-mails, an irresponsible media that was unfair to her while minimizing Drumpf’s awfulness, and the tendency of some middle and lower class people to vote against their own self-interest.

        1. I used to think you were serious. But, throwing in GamerGate gave it away.

          Nice trolling though…..

            1. Fun fact: The last time Citizen X said this sentence was when he kicked over his twin cat towers while his cats were in them, in his re-enactment of 9-11.

            2. OBLed, so that’s what you call it.

              #meOBLedtoo!

        2. Animated gifs turned erstwhile Hillary voters into Trump voters.

        3. Russian hacking

          manufactured “scandals” about e-mails

          I hope Muller discovers that the FBI was far more responsible for meddling in the election than the Russians were.

        4. It’s funny, you Leftists tout how awesome our public education system and worship the ground (more likely the money) that public education teachers walk on. Yet – they’ve produced folks who would vote for Trump over Hillary. MOAR money for public education please!!

    2. speaking of Hillary did you see where one of the Clintons homes has burned down, what are they hiding this time

      1. Server fan must have failed and the processors overheated.

        1. Bill’s gonorrhea caused EXTREME burning in his groin, apparently.

      2. Vince Foster, Jr.?

      3. Excellent way to clear out a shit ton of books you didn’t sell.

  6. But how can I use this to make fun of Trump? If nothing, then I will ignore it.

  7. The facts of life.

    Who plays Mindy?

  8. I expect this study to quickly be accepted and no one to question it’s legitimacy or integrity.

    1. I question the legitimacy of your punctuation.

    2. A day later, and I feel validated.

  9. Facts, schmacts. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.

    1. OMG. I had written a post with ‘facts shmacts’ and then I erased it!

      OMG, OMG! It’s like we’re twin sisters or something!

    2. Bzzzzzt. Totally wrong. In any self-consistent system, there will always be true statements that are unprovable within the system.

      You just got Godeled, son!

  10. Just accept it:

    Its turtles all the way down……

    1. Bullshit, There’s Elephants in there somewhere.

  11. Worse yet, those studies suggested that when highly ideological people are provided simultaneously with misinformation?that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, that vaccines are unsafe, that Barack Obama is a Muslim?and with corrections to the falsehoods, that paradoxically reinforces their prior belief in the false information. In other words, the correction “backfires.”

    Cynical libertarian followup theory: having scientific evidence to the effect that people are inherently unreasonable and incapable of responsibly coming to their own conclusions is an important step toward enacting legal controls on the types of conclusions that are permissible to draw.

    1. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.

      1. Of course. Which is a reason for limiting the power available to herds and the demagogues who feed/feed on them, not an excuse to criminalize certain unpopular flavors of stupidity.

        I know you know this, $park?, but somebody else might need the disclaimer.

      2. That’s right, people are like sheep. And that’s why they need a wise shepherd. With some mean herding dogs.

    2. If only the right people were in charge.

      1. I think that pretty well memes the Communist Manifesto.

      2. When people are free to choose, they choose wrong.

  12. Evidence that the death penalty increases crime

    Evidence that the death penalty increases crime

    Evidence that the death penalty increases crime

    Evidence that the death penalty increases crime

    1. Evidence that the death penalty increases crime

      You’re using the wrong processor. If you’re head’s going to explode, might as well stand next to someone worth taking down with you.

      I don’t have the hard facts, but would be not at all surprised to learn that there’s at least a positive correlation between murder rates, mass shootings, rape, etc. and hangings, lynchings, and stonings.

      1. you’re head’s
        *clicks empty space where an edit button could go*

        [sigh] “your head’s”

      2. You can find correlations of just about anything if you torture your data hard enough. But I can’t even conceive of what evidence of causation would look like.

        1. You can find correlations of just about anything if you torture your data hard enough. But I can’t even conceive of what evidence of causation would look like.

          Again, if knocking over a bank, operating a whiskey still, or dating someone of the opposite race will get me killed, do it just once and then stop? Seems kinda dumb to get hanged for rustling a single cow.

        2. But I can’t even conceive of what evidence of causation would look like.

          Traditional science: “experimental intervention X leads to outcome Y”. It works because it’s easy to ensure that the experimental intervention X is statistically independent from all other variables in the experiment.

          Causation becomes difficult to prove mainly when you can’t actively control the cause. That’s true for a lot of social science, economics, climatology, etc., which is why people frequently and justifiably question results in those fields.

          1. Which is why much of the social science research is irreplicable junk.

      3. Seems like it would decrease crime, since one known criminal is dead.

        1. Since the alternative to the death penalty is normally “life in prison” not “immediate release”, no, not really. Even when lifers eventually get parole that they weren’t supposed to be considered for, they’ve usually been in prison for thirty or more years and are well past the point where they’re a threat to anyone.

    2. Obviously someone still doesn’t understand the difference between correlation and causation.

  13. Try telling this to the majority of people who flap their pieholes in response to any of your climate change articles. It’s heartening to know that the backlash effect may be a myth, but selection bias is pervasive in political and quasi-political discourse in modern days. There’s all the evidence in the world out there, but if people stubbornly prefer to go to Anthony Watts dumbass blog instead of someplace real science is being reported, what do you do about that? Because they don’t seem to be motivated even by the most basic empirical standards on politically charged subjects like that.

    1. Ah! Always nice to run into another dues-paying Realclimatescience.com subscriber. Tony Heller rules the roost on temperature data!

    2. Your ignorance of climate science is so thorough you don’t even know to be embarrassed by it.

    3. There’s all the evidence in the world out there …

      Mind telling us where they are hiding it? FYI, the crap they spit out of their super computers is not evidence other than proving the computer models are crap.

      1. Mind telling us where they are hiding it?

        I don’t care where it is. I’m not venturing out into The Return Of The Polar Vortex to find it!

        The first couple weeks of 70-degree days in Dec. had me fooled. I thought this whole AGW, “let’s burn fossil fuels to heat the globe scheme” was finally starting to pay off. Maybe sometime in my lifetime we’ll start to finally see some dividends from all the wasted heat.

      2. Well it was being hidden at a secret base in the Arctic, but when the polar caps melted in 2014 like Al Gore said, they were lost in the ocean depths.

    4. Yeah, try telling this “science” to people who don’t care about science!

      They’re the worst!

    5. Much easier to call it a “settled science” (as if that’s a real thing), than to actually address intelligent skeptics.

  14. I think it’s important to separate between most people and the political class. The political class -as defined by politicians, those who work for them, and those who hate “the other team” more than they believe in anything- absolutely don’t care about facts. But even though they’re making the most noise, they’ve never been most people.

    1. … and their voters? Politicians don’t get elected by magic.

      1. They get elected by the magic of “lesser of two evils” thinking.

        1. Right, because primaries are rigged, and don’t actually matter, right?

          1. How many people do you know who pay attention to primaries?

            1. The premise I’m arguing is wrong is “people outside the political class care about facts”. This was, admittedly, before josh informed me that all voters are part of the “political class”, which makes the premise pretty non-sensical.

              But ignoring that addition that invalidates the whole thing, people that cared about facts would care about primaries. So if non-political class people don’t care about primaries, it suggests that they don’t care about facts.

              So no. Not many people pay attention to primaries. Because most people (political class or otherwise) don’t care about facts.

          2. Primaries are dominated by core partisans. Moreover, who gets to meangfully participate is largely controlled by gatekeeper institutions like parties (which have access to big donors) and media outlets (who like established big names to draw ratings).

            Things are not as democratic as they seem.

            1. Things are not as democratic as they seem.
              Only if you have unrealistic expectations. Thinking you can come in sight-unseen without any name recognition and take a national seat? Pretty unrealistic, and that has nothing to do with “gatekeeper institutions” or “media outlets”.

              And in either case, the argument I’m questioning is that “people that aren’t part of the political class care about facts and outnumber the political class”. So the lack of primary participation kind of hammers home that the premise is wrong.

      2. And by voters you mean the afore-mentioned dumb-ass sheeple?

        1. Yes, everybody is a “dumb-ass sheeple”, except, of course you and the politicians you like! /sarc

          Sorry, but the “dumb ass sheeple” is people like you who don’t understand that both voters and politicians actually are behaving generally rationally, including how they try to socialize the cost of their own mistakes and risk taking.

          And our system is actually not too bad compared to all the others, but we can improve it somewhat by resisting the socialization of costs and risks, i.e., by making it more libertarian and shrinking the power of government.

          Try to improve the system by making people “more rational”, on the other hand, is a fool’s errand since the problem we have is not a lack of rationality or a lack of facts.

        2. The ones that Josh is claiming care about facts, yes.

      3. “… and their voters? Politicians don’t get elected by magic.”

        That’s partly who I was referring to by those who hate more than they believe in something.

        1. … In 2016 we had something like 60% voter turn-out. So if you’re defining “voters” as part of the “political class” then yeah, the majority of folks don’t care about facts.

    2. The political class -as defined by politicians, those who work for them, and those who hate “the other team” more than they believe in anything- absolutely don’t care about facts.

      You’re making the mistake of believing that facts about the world are relevant to the political class; they aren’t. Whether climate change is real or not is of no consequence to a politicians. The fact that matters to a politician is that climate change is an issue they can use to get votes and donations.

  15. The factually wrong statements included Hillary Clinton’s claim that gun violence is spiraling; Barack Obama’s assertion that discrimination is the sole cause of the gender wage gap; Donald Trump’s charge that Mexican immigrants engage disproportionately in criminal behavior; and Ted Cruz’s declaration that violence against police officers is rising.

    Oh, and Rich’s claim that all these people were banned from “civil service” as a result of their lying.

  16. Does this mean that even Ronald will someday discover and understand that graphs of thermometer data at NOAA measuring stations show cooling temperatures for the past several decades? What is this world coming to?

  17. Facts matter?

    Then why not use them, Ron?

    Donald Trump’s charge that Mexican immigrants engage disproportionately in criminal behavior

    That’s a lie

    This is the factual statement–

    Donald Trump’s charge that illegal Mexican immigrants engage disproportionately in criminal behavior

    The difference is VERY important.

    1. The difference is VERY important.

      Yet, the statement is still false.

      1. There’s no conclusive proof either way. But there is this datum:

        US Bureau of Prisons:Inmate Citizenship

        Mexico – 13.1%

        https://goo.gl/J9Hvu6

        There are 11 million first generation Mexicans living in the US.

        https://goo.gl/t36wLC

        That’s less than 4% of the total population.

        1. 100% of illegal immigrants are criminals. 100%. That’s a fact, Jack.

          1. Improper entry is a crime but unlawful presence is a civil infraction. Most illegal immigrants enter legally but overstay their visas (unlawful presence) rather than evading Border Patrol or things like marriage fraud (improper entry).

            There have been several proposed bills to make unlawful presence a crime but they’ve always been withdrawn when Congressmembers see the price tag. It currently costs a little under 11K USD to deport an illegal immigrant (or 3.2B in total) . Making unlawful presence a crime would mean full jury trials of 12M people — which means paying for judges, lawyers, juries, appeals, prison housing until appeals are exhausted, etc., involved in a jury trial that could drive the cost of deportation up by 200-400%.

            1. Most illegal immigrants enter legally but overstay their visas (unlawful presence) rather than evading Border Patrol or things like marriage fraud (improper entry).

              It’s impossible to be an illegal immigrant without committing a variety of crimes other than those related to entry, such as tax evasion, using false identification, identity theft, fraud, etc.

            2. Suggest reading 8 U.S. Code ? 1324 for criminal harboring, transporting, etc. illegal aliens. If one illegal drives another illegal across town that is criminal transport, for example.

      2. Not if you count the immigration violations as criminL behavior, in which case pretty much 100% of illegals are criminals.

  18. Yes if people actually believe your facts they might change their view. But first you have to convince them that your facts are correct. THAT is the challenge.

    1. Then you have to convince them that your facts are relevant.

    2. You only have to convince them that your facts are correct if you accept living in a statist system with collective decision making.

      In a free market and libertarian system, people who get their facts wrong have to live with the consequences of their incorrect decisions themselves.

  19. The main problem with the backfire effect is that it’s based on objective reality: people don’t like being wrong. However, it is proven in laughable ways.

    Also, the majority of evidence I’ve seen suffers from what I call the “is that all you’ve got” effect. In short, pithy rebuttals are used instead of comprehensive retorts or objective facts. Most likely, the subject already knows these common retorts and has either rejected or ignored what has been presented evidence already, and so feels more confident that they are correct because they hear nothing new. This produces the “backfire” effect but in an entirely different way than is presented.

    One example that I have seen repeatedly is the “97% of climate scientists say that global warming exists”. This is not convincing when you know the history of the number (a textbook case of cherry-picking, false representation, and ignoring the question). So, if you have that as your sole evidence for catastrophic climate change, subjects that know the background will feel more confident that you know nothing about the topic.

  20. The main problem with the backfire effect is that it’s based on objective reality: people don’t like being wrong. However, it is proven in laughable ways.

    Also, the majority of evidence I’ve seen suffers from what I call the “is that all you’ve got” effect. In short, pithy rebuttals are used instead of comprehensive retorts or objective facts. Most likely, the subject already knows these common retorts and has either rejected or ignored what has been presented evidence already, and so feels more confident that they are correct because they hear nothing new. This produces the “backfire” effect but in an entirely different way than is presented.

    One example that I have seen repeatedly is the “97% of climate scientists say that global warming exists”. This is not convincing when you know the history of the number (a textbook case of cherry-picking, false representation, and ignoring the question). So, if you have that as your sole evidence for catastrophic climate change, subjects that know the background will feel more confident that you know nothing about the topic.

  21. Social science is not a science.

    1. Indeed, always be suspicious of a “science” that needs to put “science” in its name to promote its credibility. Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Engineering do not require being called “science” in their names, but social science, environmental science, christian science, military science, Scientology and climate science all seem to need to claim the honorific use of the world word science….because they aren’t really sciences.

      1. Christian Scientists are neither Christian nor scientists.

    2. Nor is it particularly social.

  22. Clearly they didn’t interview Evangelicals or California Progressives…both of which are horrendously dogmatic and no amount of factual evidence can correct them

    1. Facts are tools of the CIS hetero normative white supremacist patriarchy to silence marginalized voices

  23. that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, that vaccines are unsafe, that Barack Obama is a Muslim

    To a libertarian, the US military has no business in Iraq regardless of whether there were WMDs or not, whether vaccines are safe/unsafe is a personal decision, and Obama’s religious convictions don’t matter since Obama’s biggest failing is that he is a leftist with totalitarian tendencies regardless of his religious beliefs.

    To a libertarian, individuals use facts in their individual decision making and then have to live with the consequences of their decisions. If you believe that national or policy debate related to these issues is in any way important, you are a progressive, not a libertarian.

  24. By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their ideological commitments.

    You’d be amazed how much more “citizens heed factual information” when it is their own money at stake, instead of other people’s money.

    1. Beliefs serve a few purposes

      Signaling membership in the tribe
      Accurately predicting the future to make better choices about the future
      Persuading others
      Getting the approval of others

      Politics is signaling, not choosing

      1. (1) Signaling membership in the tribe
        (2) Accurately predicting the future to make better choices about the future
        (3) Persuading others
        (4) Getting the approval of others

        Yes, and free markets encourage (2), while progressives encourage (1), (3), and (4). Note that only (2) motivates people to hold true beliefs.

  25. This study ignores the effects of apologists. Hillary lies about guns, the NRA puts out the facts, then CNN makes up some BS about why what Hillary said is kinda mostly true. People on the left may have been convinced by the facts for about 5 minutes, but once CNN gave them an excuse to side with Hillary again they take it.

    1. Confirmation bias at it’s worst. Feelz will almost always trump facts, in other words “I don’t know about YOUR facts, all I know is that 20 innocent babies DIED and we gotta DO SOMETHING you heartless bastard.”

      [Studio audience claps and cheers approvingly]

  26. Failure to reject the null hypothesis does not establish the null hypothesis

  27. If facts mattered, a certain losing presidential candidate would have been indited.

  28. A “post-fact” world does not mean that more people ignore facts. I means more people think facts, claims that can be proven or disproven, do not exist. Many of the comments on this article argue that global warming is unknowable. They seem to say regardless of what scientists find, their minds are made up based on what we all want to be true. That’s the post-fact world.

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