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Fact vs. Fiction: The Illusion of Truth

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By Jernice Kelley
Web Content Contributor

Have you ever been in an argument and someone is proven wrong yet they cannot face the facts? Often, they double down on their original point of view. It’s one of the most incredibly frustrating things to endure, yet it happens every day. 

When people are confronted with facts that contradict their view, something known as the “backfire effect” occurs. Essentially, “fact-checking” someone can cause them to become more convinced of their misconception. 

Social Good Now’s Youtube video “Why Facts Don’t Convince People (and what you can do about it)”

People elect to ignore facts and have the tendency to embrace information that supports their beliefs. Since beliefs are connected to identity, people feel threatened when something contradicts them. They equate protecting their identity to ignoring facts.

Humans are emotional creatures before they are rational. When it comes to logic vs. emotion, decision making becomes significantly warped. The way that evidence is used, the credibility of sources and which authorities people trust make a difference as well. Even the manner in which people confront each other plays a role in receptiveness.

When people take offense, it automatically puts them on the defensive. People don’t like to be wrong, especially when the person telling them they are wrong looks like they enjoy the fact.

To a degree, everyone has moments when we are a little more skeptical of what is presented to us. Sometimes facts can be manipulated or falsified to support whatever conclusion the source prefers.

It is the repeated exposure to false information that leads people to think what is false is true. Once that occurs, the ability to change someone’s mind becomes increasingly difficult. People have a certain threshold of proof that needs to be attained before they change their opinion on a topic.  

While it is easy to look at the opposite side and wonder why they cannot think more rationally, it is important to consider how we fall for our own biases. We must allow ourselves to step back from our ego and find an equal footing with one another; humility is the ability to remain teachable.

Featured image by Jernice Kelley via Canva

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