(1700 words; 10 minute read. This post was inspired by a suggestion from Chapter 2 (p. 60) of Jess Whittlestone's dissertation on confirmation bias.)
Uh oh. No family reunion this spring—but still, Uncle Ron managed to get you on the phone for a chat. It started pleasantly enough, but now the topic has moved to politics.
He says he’s worried that Biden isn’t actually running things as president, and that instead more radical folks are running the show. He points to some video anomalies (“hand floating over mic”) that led to the theory that many apparent videos of Biden are fake.
You point out that the basis for that theory has been debunked—the relevant anomaly was due to a video compression error, and several other videos taken from the same angle show the same scene.
He reluctantly seems to accept this. The conversation moves on.
But a few days later, you see him posting on social media about how that same video of Biden may have been fake!
Sigh. Didn’t you just correct that mistake? Why do people cling on to their beliefs even after they’ve been debunked? This is the problem; another instance of people’s irrationality leading to our polarized politics—right?
Well, it is a problem. But it may be all the thornier because it’s often rational.
Philosopher at MIT, trying to convince people that their opponents are more reasonable than they think
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