Ignorance and the brain: Why people are so quick to believe falsehoods

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How can so many people believe things that are demonstrably false? The question has taken on new urgency as the Trump administration propagates falsehoods about voter fraud, climate change and crime statistics…[However, plenty] of liberals believe, counter to scientific consensus, that G.M.O.s are poisonous, and that vaccines cause autism [as well].

Here is the humbler truth: On their own, individuals are not well equipped to separate fact from fiction, and they never will be. Ignorance is our natural state….

What really sets human beings apart is not our individual mental capacity…[but] our ability to jointly pursue complex goals by dividing cognitive labor. Hunting, trade, agriculture, manufacturing…were made possible by this ability.

Knowledge isn’t in my head or in your head. It’s shared.

One consequence of the fact that knowledge is distributed this way is that being part of a community of knowledge can make people feel as if they understand things they don’t.

The key point here is not that people are irrational; it’s that this irrationality comes from a very rational place. People fail to distinguish what they know from what others know because it is often impossible to draw sharp boundaries between what knowledge resides in our heads and what resides elsewhere.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Why We Believe Obvious Untruths

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