Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Fascinating stuff related to confirmation bias and tunnel vision…

In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.

In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. Read more here.

One response to “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

  1. I’ve read many cases where people still believe a person is guilty, even when he or she is completely exonerated, and treat them like outcasts in their hometown. They come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they believe the person is guilty that only show just how closed their minds are.

    And there are loads of cases of victims and witnesses who still believe the person is guilty, even when they’re exonerated. Their opinions have just become completely unshakeable and they won’t change their minds, no matter what.

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