Summary of This Article Won’t Change Your Mind

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Why do some people stubbornly adhere to fake news stories despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Evolutionary history may provide some clues, writes psychology writer Julie Beck in The Atlantic. Because the survival of early humans depended on their ability to cooperate and foster strong social ties, people’s tendency to hold on to their tribes' beliefs at all costs may well have been an adaptive trait. Nevertheless, Beck cautions that Stone Age genes shouldn’t deter people from defending the truth. getAbstract recommends Beck’s article to media professionals and all those who value and seek the truth. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why facts often don’t change people’s minds,
  • Why ignoring the truth and adhering to deeply held convictions may have been an adaptive trait for early humans, and
  • What the arguments about fake news stories really represent.
 

About the Author

Julie Beck is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers health and psychology.

 

Summary

People who unquestioningly follow leaders of religious cults or insist on the veracity of an unequivocally disproved fake news story often do so to avoid “cognitive dissonance.” The term refers to the psychological tension humans experience when simultaneously thinking two incompatible thoughts. Humans have an innate tendency to ignore evidence against deeply held beliefs to avoid this uncomfortable state of internal tension. Especially when a certain belief inextricably links to a person’s identity or worldview, people will use all their reasoning power to convince themselves that their beliefs are true. A high IQ doesn’t inoculate humans from engaging in what psychologists call “motivated reasoning.”


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