Tim Harford — Article — The Problem With Facts


39 bookmarks. First posted by lou31 8 days ago.


Curiosity brought people together in a way that mere facts did not. The researchers muse that curious people have an extra reason to seek out the facts: “To experience the pleasure of contemplating surprising insights into how the world works.”
curiosity  politics  DEMOCRACY  timharford  ft 
yesterday by Walpole
Molière once wrote: "A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one." Modern social science agrees.
from twitter_favs
2 days ago by sajith
want to check out his books ... from Mika's dad
TimHarford  Trump 
2 days ago by cosmic
1. Just before Christmas 1953, the bosses of America’s leading tobacco companies met John Hill, the founder and chief executive of one of America’s leading…
from instapaper
4 days ago by bma
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter
5 days ago by jimpick
So successful was Big Tobacco in postponing that day of reckoning that their tactics have been widely imitated ever since. They have also inspired a thriving corner of academia exploring how the trick was achieved. In 1995, Robert Proctor, a historian at Stanford University who has studied the tobacco case closely, coined the word “agnotology”. This is the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced; the entire field was started by Proctor’s observation of the tobacco industry. The facts about smoking — indisputable facts, from unquestionable sources — did not carry the day. The indisputable facts were disputed. The unquestionable sources were questioned. Facts, it turns out, are important, but facts are not enough to win this kind of argument.
...
In the 1950s and 1960s, journalists had an excuse for their stumbles: the tobacco industry’s tactics were clever, complex and new. First, the industry appeared to engage, promising high-quality research into the issue. The public were assured that the best people were on the case. The second stage was to complicate the question and sow doubt: lung cancer might have any number of causes, after all. And wasn’t lung cancer, not cigarettes, what really mattered? Stage three was to undermine serious research and expertise. Autopsy reports would be dismissed as anecdotal, epidemiological work as merely statistical, and animal studies as irrelevant. Finally came normalisation: the industry would point out that the tobacco-cancer story was stale news. Couldn’t journalists find something new and interesting to say?
...
One infamous internal memo from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, typed up in the summer of 1969, sets out the thinking very clearly: “Doubt is our product.” Why? Because doubt “is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” Big Tobacco’s mantra: keep the controversy alive.
...
Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow.
politics  media 
5 days ago by miaridge
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter_favs
5 days ago by rtanglao
RT : The Problem With Facts really good from
from twitter
5 days ago by codepo8
Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow. It seems to be one of the only cures for politically motivated reasoning but it’s also, into the bargain, the cure for a society where most people just don’t pay attention to the news because they find it boring or confusing.
ss  sea  inthing  futurist 
5 days ago by seaugust
Just before Christmas 1953, the bosses of America’s leading tobacco companies met John Hill, the founder and chief executive of one of America’s leading public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket 
5 days ago by kkahnharris
Tempting as it is to fight lies with facts, there are three problems with that strategy. The first is that a simple untruth can beat off a complicated set of facts simply by being easier to understand and remember. When doubt prevails, people will often end up believing whatever sticks in the mind. In 1994, psychologists Hollyn Johnson and Colleen Seifert conducted an experiment in which people read an account of an explosive warehouse fire. The account mentioned petrol cans and paint but later explained that petrol and paint hadn’t been present at the scene after all. The experimental subjects, tested on their comprehension, recalled that paint wasn’t actually there. But when asked to explain facts about the fire (“why so much smoke?”), they would mention the paint. Lacking an alternative explanation, they fell back on a claim they had already acknowledged was wrong. Once we’ve heard an untrue claim, we can’t simply unhear it.
fake  news  facts  psychology  spin 
5 days ago by starrjulie
RT : If you have not read this article yet, do it now by . So many good thoughts. And…
from twitter_favs
5 days ago by moritz_stefaner
"What we need is a Carl Sagan or David Attenborough of social science — somebody who can create a sense of wonder and fascination not just at the structure of the solar system or struggles of life in a tropical rainforest, but at the workings of our own civilisation: health, migration, finance, education and diplomacy.

One candidate would have been Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling, who died in February. He reached an astonishingly wide audience with what were, at their heart, simply presentations of official data from the likes of the World Bank.

He characterised his task as telling people the facts — “to describe the world”. But the facts need a champion. Facts rarely stand up for themselves — they need someone to make us care about them, to make us curious. That’s what Rosling did. And faced with the apocalyptic possibility of a world where the facts don’t matter, that is the example we must follow."
brexit  trump  carlsagan  facts  hansrosling  opinion 
6 days ago by colm.mcmullan
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter
6 days ago by markgould13
Facts and fact-checking can't effectively counter lies – but curiosity might
from twitter
6 days ago by newsmary
We see what we want to see — and we reject the facts that threaten our sense of who we are.
psychology 
6 days ago by bfin
The Problem With Facts
6 days ago by creditcardnumber
Why it is so hard to dismiss what the says
from twitter
6 days ago by MoniqueV
"Doubt is our product" Tim Harford on the problem with facts
from twitter_favs
6 days ago by andriak
One infamous internal memo from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, typed up in the summer of 1969, sets out the thinking very clearly: “Doubt is our product.” Why? Because doubt “is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” Big Tobacco’s mantra: keep the controversy alive.

Tempting as it is to fight lies with facts, there are three problems with that strategy. The first is that a simple untruth can beat off a complicated set of facts simply by being easier to understand and remember.

There’s a second reason why facts don’t seem to have the traction that one might hope. Facts can be boring. The world is full of things to pay attention to, from reality TV to your argumentative children, from a friend’s Instagram to a tax bill. Why bother with anything so tedious as facts?

There’s a final problem with trying to persuade people by giving them facts: the truth can feel threatening, and threatening people tends to backfire. “People respond in the opposite direction,”

Solution to fighting incorrect facts: CURIOSITY
facts  trump  newsmedia  america  curiosity  politics  psychology 
7 days ago by JohnDrake
1. Just before Christmas 1953, the bosses of America’s leading tobacco companies met John Hill, the founder and chief executive of one of America’s leading…
from instapaper
8 days ago by mjbrej
Favorite tweet:

The Problem With Facts https://t.co/OulOyxcygR

— Tim Harford (@TimHarford) March 17, 2017
from instapaper
8 days ago by lou31