How Facts Backfire is a rather surprising report from the Boston Globe which suggests that people often won’t won’t change their minds even when proved wrong with the facts of a matter. Again, as with many strange things to do with our mind, it’s all tied in with conditionings and the deeper issues of cognitive dissonance, but even so it’s rather alarming in a lot of ways.
Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.