“If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.
“In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?
“Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”
—Joe Keohane, writer, “How facts backfire: Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains,” boston.com July 11, 2010
• Editorial Comment: Never let facts get in the way of a good prejudice.
• More News from the Spell-check Front: Yesterday, Betty Medsger reported on the copy editing “help" she’d received from MS Word. She’s not alone, says Teri Thompson in Ohio: “I just texted my son, ‘did you take dayquil?’ and Blackberry changed it to, ‘did you take tequila?’” Olé!
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• Agricultural Communication/Journalism Faculty Wanted! The joint program in Agricultural Communication & Journalism at Utah State University seeks candidates for a full-time, tenure-track assistant professor. See the posting at USU’s HR site here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Review begins in March. Start date: August 2011.