Check out this Op Ed piece in today’s NY Times by two cognitive researchers: “Why Do People Fall for Fake News?”
The authors’ conclusion is not surprising: We need to devote resources not only to propagating accurate information but to encouraging critical thinking as well.
But it was a common-sense observation in the piece that caught my attention: Those who blame political gullibility on rationalization (as opposed to intellectual laziness) have an explanation for why that really bright friend of mine questions climate change science. Regarding politically charged issues, the argument goes, folks with superior intellectual abilities use them not to analyze the issue but to persuade themselves of what they want to be true. Or as the authors (ironically) dumbed it down for us: “The smarter you are, the better you are at rationalizing.” Hmmm.