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Thu Sep 12, 2019, 05:53 AM

This is why liars can outsmart your brain

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2019/09/11/how-liars-can-take-advantage-your-brain/2267372001/

"Separating truth from lies is mentally taxing, and the way our brains do it is different than you might expect. 27 years ago, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert wrote an article in American Psychologist showing that we treat information the same way a court treats a suspect: innocent until proven guilty. This means that the brain starts by assuming information is true and then seeks to confirm or deny that truth.

Interestingly, we didn’t always know how the brain handled truth and lies. The seventeenth century French philosopher Rene Descartes assumed the process was more neutral. He guessed that after hearing a statement, you take a second to understand the meaning, and then either accept it as true or reject it as false. But then the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza came along and suggested an alternate method, which Gilbert found evidence to support 200 years later.

It may seem like an insignificant difference, something for philosophers to argue over. But the implications are massive, especially in the era of #fakenews, aggressive marketing, and general untruthfulness.

If Descartes was right, we wouldn’t have a bias toward believing things and the world might not be such a trusting place. But what Gilbert demonstrated is that if the brain is overloaded, it will accept lies as truth. The reason is that when the brain becomes taxed, it essentially shuts down. So if we start by assuming something as true and the brain then becomes overloaded, there is little hope in changing course. As Gilbert explained explains it, “when resource-depleted persons are exposed to… propositions they would normally disbelieve, their ability to reject those propositions is markedly reduced.”"

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 06:19 AM

1. Which is why we seek to categorize those around us as generally truthful or overt liars...

So, arguably, having done so, we no longer assume a neutral stance, but rather seek to confirm our bias. Perhaps that is a shortcut that is a bit less mentally taxing. Of course, there can be some risk in doing that and certainly isn't particularly conducive to negotiation, but it seems to be a rather generalized coping mechanism.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 07:25 AM

3. In our Information Age we use large amounts of information to try and better cope.

Processing a lot of information takes time, so we process and filter [biases?] quickly to better handle all that information?

[In long information pieces, I often find myself reading the first and last paragraphs first. Then scan the body of the texts to analyze].

[So much different from the age where fine poetry was so closely read for nuance].

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Response to empedocles (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 07:33 AM

4. Yes, I do that too. i have to say, though that with twitter & all of those short-form communication

mechanisms, I fear more and more people won't even do that. In fact, though I can't prove it, I have gotten the impression that the proportion of DUers who routinely read the linked source articles has dropped considerably over the past nearly two decades DU has been around. Likewise, I see fewer posters willing to scan through the previous responses (even on relatively short threads) before responding or even afterward. Obviously, none of us can do so all the time. It just feels like many do not--as a rule. Seeing how many posters tend to post a video or a link only with no comment also seems consistent with that assumption.

So, yes, the info overload and demands on our attention are causing really overt changes in how we consume information.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 06:22 AM

2. Interesting

Thanks. Reading the whole thing later.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 07:34 AM

5. My brain is overtaxed, so I will accept the article as true.

This idea certainly reinforces the dictator's strategy of overwhelming the public with lies. We become exhausted and numb, and accept absurd things as true.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 08:11 AM

6. Proof that red don actually is a genius

at least when it comes to conning people--he intuitively sensed that piling a mountain of shite onto the American people would make it easier for him to steal and act fascist.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 08:18 AM

7. i'm tired and overstimulated at the moment but my quick take is that this assessment is incorrect.




snark aside, i think the article is (not unreasonably) simplifying, at least in part by lumping all of us in the same boat.

it's quite possible that most people are wired to respond the way the article describes, but that there are other people who are wired, or trained, to respond the opposite way, at least in certain contexts.

scientists are generally trained to be skeptical (and/or, naturally skeptical people may be drawn to the field). such people tend not to accept a proposition until supported with data and experimentation.

perhaps, scientists may only be skeptical within their field; they may fall victim to propaganda as readily as anyone else when it comes to politics outside their field, but then again, those with natural skepticism may not.

personally, i think people are trained to have a bias of accepting or rejecting. decades of calm, rational, scientific treatment to stories, responsible journalism that verifies sources and supplies supporting information, etc., trains people to be skeptical and to insist on such support for claims.

conversely, decades of pushing tribalism, argumentation supported only by loudness and insults, hyperpartisanism and dogmatism all train people to accept or reject purely based on source.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 08:18 AM

8. And there is this from William Shirer:


Tue, 03/23/2010 - 15:29 — angry young man
In chapter eight of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," Shirer writes, seemingly of Hitler, Goebbels, and the “news”:
"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were" (247-48).

[For what it’s worth. This is exactly how Fox works, how the "Tea Party" works, how the GOP works, isn't it?]

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #8)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 08:21 AM

9. +1

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Thu Sep 12, 2019, 08:26 AM

10. So people with a shortage of working brain cells are more

likely to believe a steaming pile of BS. Color me not surprised.

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Response to harumph (Reply #10)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 03:17 AM

11. Same here.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 03:43 AM

12. liars are not innocent until proven guilty

Science doesn't assume a thing is factual until proven false.

On the other hand, millions of people pay ridiculous sums of money for a transportation device because of marketing. And I'm told there are still people using Microsoft products.

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Response to elocs (Original post)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 06:23 AM

13. I have seen people believe a lie but doubt the truth

Republicans are a great example of this.

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