Tim Harford — Article — The Problem With Facts


55 bookmarks. First posted by jonhew march 2017.


it's well known that facts don't sway people much:
from twitter
8 weeks ago by amoorthy
"Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow."
fakenews  TImHarford  agnotology  ignorance  journalism  curiosity  HansRosling 
may 2017 by psychemedia
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…
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may 2017 by aviflax
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…
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may 2017 by anglepoised
"The problem with facts": by
<new to me, lots to think about
<recommended
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april 2017 by adrianh
Argues that facts are bad at countering ingrained beliefs, using the success of the tobacco lobby for decades as an example. Also argues that promoting scientific curiosity will help, which I'm not sure I agree with--current scientifically curious people share many other potentially causal traits here.
politics  sociology 
april 2017 by alexbecker
Must reading for everyone who wants to understand why are losing to
FakeNews  facts  from twitter_favs
april 2017 by aratob
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
march 2017 by mortenjust
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 
march 2017 by Walpole
Molière once wrote: "A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one." Modern social science agrees.
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march 2017 by sajith
want to check out his books ... from Mika's dad
TimHarford  Trump 
march 2017 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…
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march 2017 by bma
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter
march 2017 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.
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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?
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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.
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Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow.
politics  media 
march 2017 by miaridge
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter_favs
march 2017 by rtanglao
RT : The Problem With Facts really good from
from twitter
march 2017 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  futurist  inthing-done 
march 2017 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 
march 2017 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 
march 2017 by starrjulie
RT : If you have not read this article yet, do it now by . So many good thoughts. And…
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march 2017 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 
march 2017 by colm.mcmullan
RT : The Problem with Facts - my on fact-checking, fake news and coping with post-truth politics:
LongRead  from twitter
march 2017 by markgould13
Facts and fact-checking can't effectively counter lies – but curiosity might
from twitter
march 2017 by newsmary
We see what we want to see — and we reject the facts that threaten our sense of who we are.
communication  persuasion  psychology 
march 2017 by bfin
The Problem With Facts
march 2017 by creditcardnumber
Why it is so hard to dismiss what the says
from twitter
march 2017 by MoniqueV
"Doubt is our product" Tim Harford on the problem with facts
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march 2017 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

"I wonder why...." Say something provoking that digs into a lie and just let it sit. That prompts the audience to look deeper.
facts  trump  newsmedia  america  curiosity  politics  psychology 
march 2017 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…
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march 2017 by mjbrej
Favorite tweet:

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

— Tim Harford (@TimHarford) March 17, 2017
from instapaper
march 2017 by lou31