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Drawing of Elon Musk's face. Drawing by Brady Dale, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Either reporters lie or consumers don't want to listen

Some thoughts on Elon Musks's little idea about the press.

Social scientists don't get a lot of credit for their research, but they have made an observation in recent years that a consensus has formed around: our brains hold onto facts that square with our beliefs and discard those that don't.

That is, facts aren't persuasive.

We think that if we present people with compelling facts, then they will have to acknowledge the greater truth behind those facts.

The opposite turns out to be true: the more we present people with facts that contradict someone's beliefs, the more those beliefs will harden against corroborating facts.

So it's no wonder that so many people think the media is "full of lies." I don't think journalists generally lie (but I'm a reporter, of course), but I think they do present a lot of facts that run counter to beliefs held by great many people.

So when people hear facts that negate their worldview, they reject the fact. And what are rejected facts &mdash in a very, very simplistic analysis &mdash but lies?

That's why I'm not surprised people feel like there are more lies out there, because people have a lot of beliefs that don't stand up to scrutiny.

But that doesn't mean that reporters are actually lying, even if a lot of people agree that they are.

It means a lot of people have beliefs that don't stand up to good reporting.

—Brady Dale
June 10, 2018
This post was originally published on TXT.FYI

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