Social scientists have some intriguing explanations for why people persist in misjudgements despite strong contrary evidence. In fact, studies conducted over the past 30 years show that attempts to refute false information often backfire and lead people to hold on to their misperceptions even more strongly.
A 2015 behavioural science article examined the puzzle of why nearly one-third of U.S. parents believe that childhood vaccines cause autism, despite overwhelming medical evidence that there’s no such link. In such cases, the study noted, “arguing the facts doesn’t help — in fact, it makes the situation worse.” The reason is that people tend to accept arguments that confirm their views and discount facts that challenge what they believe. Continue reading →
In the United States presidential elections, a primary is a statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates; a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support. Both systems culminate in the selection of delegates who will vote on behalf of the electorate at a party’s national convention.
On closer inspection, the system is incredibly convoluted and even undemocratic. Consider the following news report:
“We’re putting up right now a graphic Bernie Sanders wins 56 to 44 percent in Wyoming the delegates rewarded Hillary Clinton 11 Bernie Sanders 7. Why does the Democratic Party even have voting booths? This system is so rigged!” – MSNBC
And it is not just the Democrats, when Donald Trump won Louisiana beating Ted Cruz by more than 3 percent he was upset to discover Ted Cruz could potentially get as many as 10 more delegates or as he put it:
“I end up winning in Louisiana, and then when everything is done I find out I get less delegates and this guy that got his ass kicked, OK. Give me a break!” – Donald Trump
There is no clearer piece of evidence that this system is broken than when Donald Trump is actually making sense. Confronted with results like these, the process appears counter-intuitive. Continue reading →