Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Interview with B. Nyhan

An interview with my Duke homeslice Brendan Nyhan.

Reflecting as always Brendan's painfully earnest view that better facts will give us better politics.  But to be fair there is also some interesting social science here:

They found that being told the scandal was false had some effect on participants’ belief in the story, but not nearly as much as being given an alternative explanation. “The innuendo significantly increased the perceived likelihood that Swensen was corrupt,” the authors wrote. “Disturbingly, this effect persisted in the denial condition; respondents who were told of Swensen’ s denial were still significantly more likely than controls to believe in the corruption story. However, the causal correction undid this effect.” 

Nyhan and Reifler recommended that alternative explanations be presented with corrections whenever possible. The experiment shows what fact-checkers are up against. When false information is let loose, it is very difficult to refute, especially when it corresponds to a preexisting narrative about a public figure.


Peter McIlhon said...


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