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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 03:55 PM

Derogatory comments and preexisting beliefs

The article is about climate change trolls, but could be applied to other things like, say, guns and gun control. it appeared that pushing people's emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/you-idiot-course-trolls-comments-make-you-believe-science-less

The Science of Why Comment Trolls Suck

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In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science. Participants were asked to read a blog post containing a balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology (which is already all around us and supports a $91 billion US industry). The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were "civil"—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: "If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you're an idiot."

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn't a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people's emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.

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In the context of the psychological theory of motivated reasoning, this makes a great deal of sense. Based on pretty indisputable observations about how the brain works, the theory notes that people feel first, and think second. The emotions come faster than the "rational" thoughts—and also shape the retrieval of those thoughts from memory. Therefore, if reading insults activates one's emotions, the "thinking" process may be more likely to be defensive in nature, and focused on preserving one's identity and preexisting beliefs

15 replies, 1266 views

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Derogatory comments and preexisting beliefs (Original post)
uppityperson Jan 2013 OP
99th_Monkey Jan 2013 #1
Wait Wut Jan 2013 #4
uppityperson Jan 2013 #11
Wait Wut Jan 2013 #14
Xipe Totec Jan 2013 #2
99th_Monkey Jan 2013 #5
NutmegYankee Jan 2013 #3
patrice Jan 2013 #6
CommoFreq Jan 2013 #7
Hassin Bin Sober Jan 2013 #15
Kali Jan 2013 #8
cthulu2016 Jan 2013 #9
bongbong Jan 2013 #10
JoeyT Jan 2013 #13
baldguy Jan 2013 #12

Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:00 PM

1. This makes total sense.

I hope this is cross-posted in Meta, as well.

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Response to 99th_Monkey (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:05 PM

4. Good idea.

If UP doesn't cross-post, I may just add the link to here.

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Response to Wait Wut (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:32 PM

11. Please do so if you haven't already.

I'm taking a bit of a DU break but wanted to share this as I found it interesting. thanks.

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Response to uppityperson (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 11:47 AM

14. Done!

I keep thinking I need a break, as well.

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:03 PM

2. We should tell them how dumb it is to hit themselves with a hammer over and over

And then laugh derisively.

(purely as a confirmatory science experiment).

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:16 PM

5. One of my Dad's favorite sayings was

"he/she" are like someone hitting themselves on the head with a hammer, just
because it feels so good when they quit"

He was also a loyal Democrat, God bless him.

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:04 PM

3. And this applies to everybody.

Ridiculing a person's viewpoint rather than discussing the points in a rational manner makes them double down partly to exact vengeance on the other. Respectful debate is a must.

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:36 PM

6. K&R

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:38 PM

7. I've been waiting for something like this.

 

It seems that this was always a phenomenon but nobody with letters next to their names bothered to give it much attention.

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Response to CommoFreq (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 12:27 PM

15. Earlg's comment on your ban message is delicious irony.

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:47 PM

8. interesting!

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 05:01 PM

9. You mean calling everyone "delicate flowers" doesn't persuade them?

Damn... I may have to rethink this thing.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 05:56 PM

10. LOL

 

> You mean calling everyone "delicate flowers" doesn't persuade them?

To convince hard-line Delicate Flowers that their need for their Precious is illusory, they'd have to face many months of intense psychiatric care to rid them of their deep, deep fear & paranoia.

IOW, it's not a belief system that can be changed on a chatboard.

In fact, let me know when you find somebody out of the millions on chatboards who changed their opinion on a core issue due to posts on that chatboard. Naturally you'll have to do a lot of work to prove it, since anybody can say anything on a chatboard.

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Response to bongbong (Reply #10)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 04:41 AM

13. Speaking as someone that's pro-gun control,

it's people that do nothing but make silly-assed comments that enable the NRA.

Go be on someone else's side.

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:35 PM

12. Ah, but there's always an audience...

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