Bill Moyers notes a study from the University of Michigan “deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information.” The study found that when people who had been misinformed “were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs.”
We often base our opinions on our beliefs … and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”
This explains a lot about politics.
I would also like to point out something about faith and reason, from a Christian point of view.
It is not an empirical reality that people in fact live according to reality and make decisions according to reason. Reason is an ethical imperative. We ought to live according to truth, reason, and reality. The common human refusal to face reality is another name for sin, collusion in willful self-deception.
Faith, in the Christian sense, is not about clinging to irrational beliefs in spite of facts. Faith is a commitment to living according to justice, peace, and truth. Life according to justice, peace, and truth is the Way of Jesus Christ; and it includes making decision according to reality.
One fact of recent history is that the Wall Street High-rollers reckless ways destroyed the economy, forced middle-class taxpayers to bail them out, and made billions in personal profits in the process. People are justifiably angry but they have no way to pour out their wrath on the guilty. So they look for a target nearer at hand and they find the people who cut our meat, harvest our vegetables, changes the sheets in our hotels and perform other dangerous, difficult, or menial tasks that we prefer not to do ourselves.
We can’t punish them directly, so instead we choose to punish their children.
The children of undocumented workers have broken no laws. The state representatives today voted to punish them by tripling their tuition rate if they chose to go to college in the only home state they know.
This is not a solution to any real problem. It will not increase revenue, it will only prevent the kids from getting an education and contributing to the state economy.
Maybe our state senate will show more wisdom.