Sunday, June 10, 2012

Continued Influence effect

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of
US President Barack Obama
(born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009)
and victim of "Continued Influence Effect"
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Psychologists have long noticed this particular mental bias in everybody... when you got things wrong, and you correct it, the WRONG item STICKS in your mind, and doesn't quite fade for a long time. During the time where you *knew* you WERE wrong, that WRONG FACT will still affect your thinking.

One of the more popular and contemporary examples was the hoax that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim, and thus NOT eligible to serve as US president. Even when the former (born in Kenya) had been debunked several times over (even the birth certificate in Hawaii had been published), there are PLENTY of people who CONTINUED to believe that President Obama is a Muslim or not born in the US. Furthermore, only the question of birthplace would affect president eligibility, NOT religion. By linking the two together, the people who "believed" the hoax continued to believe one part of the hoax even when the other parts have been debunked. Furthermore, people CONTINUED to dig up information of unknown reliability and claim it somehow "proves" their point instead of examining the reliability of such info with some critical thinking. They just accept info that fits their worldview without fact-checking

Scammers work the same way: they give you all the "good" parts and lie about the rest. Even AFTER some of the lies have been exposed, victims continue to believe OTHER PARTS of the lie, and continues to defend the scam. 
Scientists have long known that correcting false information does NOT change belief to a significant extent. Even when the believers accept that they had been wrong, they simply shift their logic to use the remaining "evidence" to support their belief. 

The Vaccine-Deniers continued to promote their agenda even when their main body of evidence, Andrew Wakefield, was thoroughly discredited through over a decade of proper science and research, unlike his own bogus paper. The vaccine-deniers REFUSE to accept that their belief could be wrong, even when evidence supporting it proven to be bogus. They simply went out looking for ANY evidence (proven or not) that supports their position without fact checking. 

Scam victims often behave the same way. Instead of realizing that they have been bamboozled, they instead use every sort of "defense" for their scam against the critics trying to wake them (and any other victims).

Is there any chance for these "true believers"? It depends on what is the root cause of his or her belief. If the cause is based on emotion, esp. fear, then there is little hope in convincing them to see the truth, and this is where it would be a waste of time to talk to them. If on the other hand, if the person is NOT emotion based, and is actually willing to consider new information and think critically, then there is some hope yet.

I suspect most of the "defenders" of of a scam are defending it based out of fear that it may in fact BE a scam, and are desperately trying to convince themselves that it is NOT a scam. Thus, there is little chance of convincing them to see the truth UNTIL the government shut the scam down. Even when they see the scam shut down in other countries, they hung on to belief that it is "still legit" in their own country. There is also a bit of "sunken cost fallacy" involved, and "risk avoidance", but that's for another chapter. 

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  1. "even the birth certificate in Hawaii had been published"
    Some are saying its a forgery. I would not put it past the politically corrupt AG Eric Holder. Worst DOJ in the history of the USA

    1. Right, and you don't think the Democratic party would have looked seriously into this before he became a senator, much less presidential candidate? Or are you going to claim that it's a giant conspiracy to suppress this info? :D Come on. Don't tell me you're under the "continued influence" too. :D