Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth

Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth

August 27, 2009 5:00 pm 2 comments

For their study, the scientists whittled down surveys filled out by 246 voters, of whom 73 percent believed in a Saddam-9/11 link, to 49 believers who were willing to be interviewed at length in October 2004. Even after the 49 were shown newspaper articles reporting that the 9/11 Commission had not found any evidence linking Saddam and 9/11, and quoting President Bush himself denying it, 48 stuck to their guns: yup, Saddam Hussein, directly or indirectly, brought down the Twin Towers.

When the scientists asked the participants why they believed in the link, they offered many justifications. Five argued that Saddam supported terrorism generally, or that evidence of a link to 9/11 might yet emerge. These counterarguments are not entirely illogical. But almost everyone else offered some version of “I don’t know; I don’t know anything”—that is, outright confusion over the conflict between what they believed and what the facts showed—or switched subjects to the invasion of Iraq. As one put it, when asked about his Saddam-9/11 belief, “There is no doubt in my mind that if we did not deal with Saddam Hussein when we did, it was just a matter of time when we would have to deal with him.” In other words, holding fast to the Saddam-9/11 belief helped people make sense of the decision to go to war against Iraq.

Newsweek: Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth

(via Spinegrinder)

2 Comments

  • Bill Whitcomb

    I think that there is an element of simple investment. I can feel it myself. As someone that loves America and its foundation ideals, I’d *love* to believe that we are only a force for good. Beyond even that, though, the idea that we have spent our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s inheritence on a scam, perpetrated by those chosen to lead us, and that we have paid this price for something that may have even made us less safe…well, it’s not that hard to understand that many find this too bitter to swallow. One of the wonders in our society is that we are so insulated from immediate consequences that it is possible for many of us to literally believe anything we want. Myself excluded, of course, since my worldview is completely accurate and rational. Yep. Uh huh. Yessiree Bob.

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