Information Avoidance

Ars technica considers an analysis of how our beliefs determine the information we allow ourselves to be exposed to:

Analysis of the studies shows that people are almost two times more likely to select information that is congenial to their current beliefs and behaviors than they are to pick information that opposes them. That is to say, when offered material containing views that were contrary to their beliefs (either in article or broadcast form), people had only a one-in-three chance of taking a closer look at that information.

Not terribly suprising, but it does help explain why so many persist in their beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. This bit is particularly interesting:

The study also found that people who are unsure of their beliefs are actually more likely to avoid conflicting views.

My gut reaction was to think this can’t possibly be true; If there’s one thing people abhor more than anything, it’s uncertainty. But perhaps there is something worse: fear. Fear that you might be wrong.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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