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(Discover)   Smart people tend to find articles online that support their pre-existing beliefs. But you already knew that before clicking this   (blogs.discovermagazine.com) divider line 77
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1959 clicks; posted to Geek » on 20 Jun 2012 at 5:42 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-20 03:33:47 PM
The most important thing I have to say on this is: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right. This is an incredibly common fallacy, and one I see a lot. In many cases, the opposite is true, especially when it comes to closely-held beliefs. Smart people hear a claim and decide to check up on it, and then fall victim to the bias of only reading articles that support their pre-existing belief.

Um, I would imagine that almost ALL people do this.
 
2012-06-20 03:39:11 PM
just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right.

The converse of this is also true. Just because you're right doesn't mean you're smart.
(Truly smart people don't care about being right.)
 
2012-06-20 03:47:23 PM
Confirmation bias? Surely you jest.
 
2012-06-20 03:47:25 PM
FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: RE: FWD: OBAMA IS IMPORTED MUSLIN! SCIENTISTS FIND 6,000 YEAR OLD DINOSAUR BONES! CHILD SEES LIGHT, HEARS GOD BEFORE DOCTORS REVIVE HIM! SNOPES CONFIRMS!111!
 
2012-06-20 03:47:50 PM
Also, just because someone is "smart" and an expert in one area, doesn't mean they are universally intelligent/knowledgeable. You wouldn't ask your car mechanic to perform open heart surgery, you shouldn't trust a person with a degree in engineering to be an expert in climate change
 
2012-06-20 03:47:58 PM

Because People in power are Stupid: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right.

The converse of this is also true. Just because you're right doesn't mean you're smart.
(Truly smart people don't care about being right.)


The obverse is also true. Just because I'm right doesn't mean you're smart.

Wait...yeah.
 
2012-06-20 03:48:29 PM

Nadie_AZ: The most important thing I have to say on this is: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right. This is an incredibly common fallacy, and one I see a lot. In many cases, the opposite is true, especially when it comes to closely-held beliefs. Smart people hear a claim and decide to check up on it, and then fall victim to the bias of only reading articles that support their pre-existing belief.

Um, I would imagine that almost ALL people do this.


They do.

I have a handy dandy quote to go along with it too.

"We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told that we are wrong we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem, which is threatened. ... Few of us take the pains to study the origin of our cherished convictions; indeed, we have a natural repugnance to so doing. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do."
- James Harvey Robinson
 
2012-06-20 04:11:11 PM

rikdanger: Because People in power are Stupid: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right.

The converse of this is also true. Just because you're right doesn't mean you're smart.
(Truly smart people don't care about being right.)

The obverse is also true. Just because I'm right doesn't mean you're smart.

Wait...yeah.


And the double secret reverse is true: Just because you're wrong doesn't mean your mother didn't sleep around and conceive you anally.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2012-06-20 04:29:43 PM
Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.
 
2012-06-20 04:41:57 PM
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2012-06-20 04:48:11 PM
The most important thing I have to say on this is: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right. This is an incredibly common fallacy, and one I see a lot. In many cases, the opposite is true, especially when it comes to closely-held beliefs. Smart people hear a claim and decide to check up on it, and then fall victim to the bias of only reading articles that support their pre-existing belief.

I believe this is the most stupid thing I've read today

/still early, though
 
2012-06-20 04:59:11 PM

FishyFred: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: RE: FWD: OBAMA IS IMPORTED MUSLIN! SCIENTISTS FIND 6,000 YEAR OLD DINOSAUR BONES! CHILD SEES LIGHT, HEARS GOD BEFORE DOCTORS REVIVE HIM! SNOPES CONFIRMS!111!


OMG I SAW THEM TALKING ABOUT THAT ON SODAHEAD.COM TOO!
 
2012-06-20 05:10:46 PM

vpb: Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.


And most of those sites get linked to the Politics tab. You know, for rational discussion, and certainly not for pages and pages of F5F5F5F5F5F5F5F5RAAAAAAAAAAAGE! that gets Drew more beer.
 
2012-06-20 05:45:57 PM

vpb: Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.


fox isn't mainstream?
 
2012-06-20 05:46:17 PM

vpb: Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.


see: www.foxnews.com
 
2012-06-20 05:47:03 PM
When I came to Fark 8 years ago, I was pretty much still a neo-con fundie. After years of reading y'all's liberal atheist crap, I'm more of a moderate spiritualist now.

No confirmation bias for me!
 
2012-06-20 05:47:09 PM
DAMNIT LOONATIC!!
 
2012-06-20 05:52:25 PM
Why wasn't this posted in the politics thread? Nobody, according to themselves, is ever wrong over there
 
2012-06-20 05:52:53 PM

Strategeryz0r: DAMNIT LOONATIC!!


bwahahaha

I'd also follow this up with CNN, and the daily mail
 
2012-06-20 06:00:45 PM
Smart people Religious people, conspiracy theorists, and anti-vaxxers tend to find articles online that support their pre-existing beliefs.

FTFS.
 
2012-06-20 06:01:17 PM

vpb: Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.


Or USA Today
 
2012-06-20 06:09:21 PM
I think the ability to look at the available sources and then discern the truth on your own is something many people are incapable of. It's also not something taught in any schools. Everyone just wants someone else to tell them what to believe. When you look at what the average person thinks about a certain subject, it's not a conclusion they came to on their own, it's something they were told.

I don't fit in on conspiracy sites because i question everything relentlessly, and if you do that you get labeled a "shill" or "plant" by the communities. You're supposed to just accept everything or nothing, apparently.

But i also don't quite fit in with those who just accept everything NASA or other 'official' groups say without question. I may be one of the only true skeptics.
 
2012-06-20 06:17:16 PM

Because People in power are Stupid:
(Truly smart people don't care about being right.)


Kinda depends what you're doing, there. If you're running for public office, yeah, you care more about being convincing. If you're repairing the life support system on your Apollo orbiter ten thousand miles out from the earth, you're probably somewhat concerned about being right.

As for what the article's talking about, his problem seems to be, not with smart people, but with educated people that aren't very smart. A little knowledge is a lot more dangerous than full mastery of a subject: teach a man to be an electrician and he can keep his wiring in good repair, teach a man how to remove the covers on a light switch and you now know what's going to be on his next entry in the hospital's records.

Approached with proper training, Ethos is actually a great tool for uncovering new information. The problem is that actually verifying a speaker's authority typically means knowing a good deal about the subject yourself, which can be an issue in science reporting. Sure, I know that Nature is a more reliable source than the Glenn Beck show and why that's the case, but someone who doesn't do what I do for a living just kinda has to take my word for it (or someone else in the academic sciences) or go by the "well, it's pretty famous" metric, which is an issue since so is Beck. And without actual scientific training, he can't read my/the other doctor's work and establish that my opinion of Nature v Beck isn't pulled from my ass either. So it comes to blind trust, which is kind of an issue even when you're accidentally blindly trusting the right people.

//Exaggerated example, obviously, but that's the general shape of it.
 
2012-06-20 06:19:22 PM

J. Frank Parnell: I think the ability to look at the available sources and then discern the truth on your own is something many people are incapable of. It's also not something taught in any schools. Everyone just wants someone else to tell them what to believe. When you look at what the average person thinks about a certain subject, it's not a conclusion they came to on their own, it's something they were told.

I don't fit in on conspiracy sites because i question everything relentlessly, and if you do that you get labeled a "shill" or "plant" by the communities. You're supposed to just accept everything or nothing, apparently.

But i also don't quite fit in with those who just accept everything NASA or other 'official' groups say without question. I may be one of the only true skeptics.


You sound special.
 
2012-06-20 06:38:07 PM

runcible spork: You sound special.


Retard and idiot are what i hear most.
 
2012-06-20 06:52:29 PM
I just examine what evidence and facts that I can find. Generally speaking, it's pretty farking clear what they mean. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not. And when there isn't enough evidence to figure it out, I try to reserve judgement on it until there is.
 
2012-06-20 06:57:41 PM
Absolutely everyone rejects statements with which they do not agree.
 
2012-06-20 07:00:47 PM
One thing I think is sorely lacking in school (which exacerbates these issues) is good statistics curriculum. Unfortunately, it's boring as shiat, but if you actually start to understand many of the fundemental concepts, you begin to look at the world in a different way. You see all sorts of biases, you see samples sizes too small to make good conclusions, you see the correlation=causation fallacy emerge, etc etc etc.
 
2012-06-20 07:01:11 PM
nobody gets on the internet to get info, they get on to yell at people who don't believe what they believe
 
2012-06-20 07:02:51 PM
Isn't there also just some technical aspects that support that kind of thing? I mean if you believe there's life on Mars you google "Life on Mars" and you're going to find more results supporting it than not, right?
 
2012-06-20 07:06:03 PM

Embden.Meyerhof: One thing I think is sorely lacking in school (which exacerbates these issues) is good statistics curriculum.


qft.

School doesn't do a good job of teaching kids to think. I still get made fun of by coworkers for being nerdy enough to mention the concept of Occam's razor in response to a conspiracy about Obama being illegal and both republicans and democrats in on it. Apparently its dorky to dismiss a conspiracy like that on the ground that if the two parties were working together they wouldn't need to get someone who wasn't a citizen to be their puppet.

/sigh
 
2012-06-20 07:09:20 PM
On the other hand, I do know two mechanical engineers who are pioneers in the field of hybrid DNS/LES and coherent structures using CFD. They both worked with/for NOAA and NASA on complex geophysical fluid dynamics models and strongly believe in AGW from their modeling experience and corroborating the same with experimental research groups.

/I suppose their level of expertise is such that they consider themselves to be scientists/physicists rather than engineers.

zedster: Also, just because someone is "smart" and an expert in one area, doesn't mean they are universally intelligent/knowledgeable. You wouldn't ask your car mechanic to perform open heart surgery, you shouldn't trust a person with a degree in engineering to be an expert in climate change

 
2012-06-20 07:18:23 PM

Embden.Meyerhof: One thing I think is sorely lacking in school (which exacerbates these issues) is good statistics curriculum. Unfortunately, it's boring as shiat, but if you actually start to understand many of the fundemental concepts, you begin to look at the world in a different way. You see all sorts of biases, you see samples sizes too small to make good conclusions, you see the correlation=causation fallacy emerge, etc etc etc.


numbers don't lie and graphs well represent what may otherwise be abstract, hard to digest information. in my 20's i began to fully appreciate how much of the world demands a solid comprehension of numbers. those who lack the skills are severely limited on how much they will be able to assimilate in a huge variety of topics.
 
2012-06-20 07:30:08 PM

zedster: Also, just because someone is "smart" and an expert in one area, doesn't mean they are universally intelligent/knowledgeable. You wouldn't ask your car mechanic to perform open heart surgery, you shouldn't trust a person with a degree in engineering to be an expert in climate change


Myself I have a PHD in Climate Engineering :)
 
2012-06-20 07:32:43 PM

Nurglitch: Absolutely everyone rejects statements with which they do not agree.


That's a big thing, too. Confirmation bias.

Sadly ego is a big part of discussions or arguments online, and people won't give an inch to the 'enemy' no matter what facts are presented. They would sooner shoot themselves in the head than admit they were wrong. Willful ignorance abounds.
 
X15
2012-06-20 07:39:03 PM
In the Lifehacker interview I recommended following the scientific consensus as a default position. Why? Because when scientists agree on something, it's almost always because there is overwhelming evidence to support it, research indicating it's correct, and vast amounts of experience going into accepting that conclusion. That doesn't mean it's always right 100% of the time, of course, but that's the way to bet. Also, it makes a lot more sense to go with the consensus of people who have experience in a topic versus the opinions of people who don't.

On the one hand: SCIENCE!

On the other hand, I've seen an awful lot of bad science being taken as gospel.

Science has a much higher burden placed upon it, and I don't think most peer review is up to the task.
 
2012-06-20 07:50:56 PM

Nadie_AZ: The most important thing I have to say on this is: just because you're smart doesn't mean you're right. This is an incredibly common fallacy, and one I see a lot. In many cases, the opposite is true, especially when it comes to closely-held beliefs. Smart people hear a claim and decide to check up on it, and then fall victim to the bias of only reading articles that support their pre-existing belief.

Um, I would imagine that almost ALL people do this.


Problem: All people do that
Cause: People are lazy
 
2012-06-20 07:51:01 PM

zedster: Also, just because someone is "smart" and an expert in one area, doesn't mean they are universally intelligent/knowledgeable. You wouldn't ask your car mechanic to perform open heart surgery, you shouldn't trust a person with a degree in engineering to be an expert in climate change


Agreed. There are also those that have an incredible understanding of complex tasks, yet problems with simple things. My step dad is like that. He can plan an entire manufacturing robot in his head, and start building it. He's built his own tools, built a light house in their front yard, etc. The guy is brilliant, but holy hell does he have a problem with directions. He gets lost in the grocery store if my mom isn't with him.
 
2012-06-20 07:51:07 PM

X15: Science has a much higher burden placed upon it, and I don't think most peer review is up to the task.


I don't suppose you have any actual experience with scientific peer review?
 
2012-06-20 07:53:59 PM
Smart people tend to find articles online that support their pre-existing beliefs because their pre-existing beliefs are generally correct.
 
2012-06-20 07:59:45 PM

Unoriginal_Username: There are also those that have an incredible understanding of complex tasks, yet problems with simple things. My step dad is like that. He can plan an entire manufacturing robot in his head, and start building it. He's built his own tools, built a light house in their front yard, etc. The guy is brilliant, but holy hell does he have a problem with directions. He gets lost in the grocery store if my mom isn't with him.


Sounds like he may be mildly dyslexic. I am, and it's frustrating as Hell to have such a bad sense of direction. But I'm good at understanding 3-dimensional fluid flows, which helps me with my research.
 
2012-06-20 08:06:02 PM

Nurglitch: Absolutely everyone rejects statements with which they do not agree.


No I don't.
 
2012-06-20 08:11:05 PM
Hey, I'm so smart I've found FRACTAL DOUBT.

Have you found the power of doubt? It's amazing. You start by saying "How do I know what I think I know?" and you start poking around the topic. But you have to ask that question again and again until you have doubted the basis of each of the concepts your idea was built on.

I discovered fractal doubt after I heard someone who was fractally wrong.

Right now I'm having trouble because I applied fractal doubt to what I knew of economics. I think I need to start way over in cognitive psychology and see what is known about human interactions, see if I can get a better grasp of the economic transaction at the personal level. Then I'm going to try to expand my knowledge to the macroeconomic level.

And I think I already figured out why the global economy sucks. It's because people suck.
 
2012-06-20 08:15:10 PM

LouDobbsAwaaaay: Unoriginal_Username: There are also those that have an incredible understanding of complex tasks, yet problems with simple things. My step dad is like that. He can plan an entire manufacturing robot in his head, and start building it. He's built his own tools, built a light house in their front yard, etc. The guy is brilliant, but holy hell does he have a problem with directions. He gets lost in the grocery store if my mom isn't with him.

Sounds like he may be mildly dyslexic. I am, and it's frustrating as Hell to have such a bad sense of direction. But I'm good at understanding 3-dimensional fluid flows, which helps me with my research.


That is a possibility. I've always thought it was just because he was British
 
2012-06-20 08:18:43 PM

Fano: vpb: Stupid people do that too, they just can't find articles that fit their pre-existing on mainstream news sites, which is why they go to sites that cater specifically to their pre-existing beliefs.

Or USA Today


Bullshiat. NOBODY reads USA Today. It's usually used in hotel rooms to keep the desk clean while you eat breakfast.
 
2012-06-20 08:22:39 PM
what does that mean about global warming then?
 
2012-06-20 08:27:20 PM

gittlebass: what does that mean about global warming then?


It means you should give me all your money. Even if global warming isn't true, it's the safest option.
 
2012-06-20 08:38:25 PM
Lean Forward
 
2012-06-20 08:48:45 PM

Superjew: Smart people tend to find articles online that support their pre-existing beliefs because their pre-existing beliefs are generally correct.


I'm not just citing your post because I agree with it, but also because it's true.
 
2012-06-20 08:49:18 PM
A few minutes ago, while in the car, my 8-year-old daughter asked about heaven. My wife died three years ago, so these questions are important to my daughter.
I answered, "I don't know, honey. Nobody knows the answer to that question, because nobody has ever been dead and then come back to tell us about it all."
She said, "What about Jesus and God? Some of my friends say that they are real."
I answered, "Lots of people BELIEVE that they are, but I really don't know. I wish there was some sort of proof, but there isn't. They can believe those things if that makes them feel better, but you can believe anything you want and its probably just as true."
We decided that Mom can do whatever she wants now, but if she plays golf or basketball or soccer she still has to try hard and might not win, but she is always the best she can be and nobody ever gets injured.
 
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