Friday, June 27, 2008

This is awful ...

... Your Brain Lies to You. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"FALSE beliefs are everywhere. Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found."

If you don't know the answer to a question, your answer is likely to be wrong. In other words, as regards the subject of the question, you are ignorant. So in a sense you harbor a false belief. I think most people who answered this question wrong probably never really thought about it much and would have no trouble changing their minds and keeping things straight the moment you explained matters to them. I wonder if the authors of this piece think that John Kerry spent a Christmas in Cambodia. It so happens I reviewed the Swift Boat book. Here's what I had to say:

It is a pretty klutzy piece of work. The prose is frequently disfigured by eruptions of adjectivitis ("treasonous Jane Fonda"). The chapter headings and subheadings read like the front page of a tabloid - "Kerry's Antiwar Secrets," "The War Crimes Kerry Doesn't Want Investigated. " The tone throughout is intemperate. ... Still, in the midst of all this, they do manage to score a direct hit on Kerry's credibility. ... [Douglas Brinkley's Tour of Duty] done with Kerry's cooperation, "is based largely on journals and correspondence Kerry kept while on his tours of duty. " But by his own account, Kerry was in Vietnam during Christmas of 1968, in a town named Sa Dec, about 55 miles from the Cambodian border. In this account, no gunshots are in evidence. Brinkley quotes one of Kerry's letters: "the night soothes everything. . . . Visions of sugar plums really do dance through your head. . . . It's Christmas Eve. "

So misinformation gets circulated during political campaigns and is often hard to counter. Wow. And there are lots of credulous people out there. Boy, you could have fooled me. Apparently, you could have fooled the authors of this piece, too, except that they know about how the brain can lie to you and of course they're on to that. So they'll never be taken in by their brains, right?

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