Another way our brains betray us

by polymathwannabe 6y17th Sep 20131 min read11 comments


This appeared in the news yesterday.

It turns out that in the public realm, a lack of information isn’t the real problem. The hurdle is how our minds work, no matter how smart we think we are. We want to believe we’re rational, but reason turns out to be the ex post facto way we rationalize what our emotions already want to believe.


The bleakest finding was that the more advanced that people’s math skills were, the more likely it was that their political views, whether liberal or conservative, made them less able to solve the math problem. [...] what these studies of how our minds work suggest is that the political judgments we’ve already made are impervious to facts that contradict us.


Denial is business-as-usual for our brains. More and better facts don’t turn low-information voters into well-equipped citizens. It just makes them more committed to their misperceptions.


When there’s a conflict between partisan beliefs and plain evidence, it’s the beliefs that win. The power of emotion over reason isn’t a bug in our human operating systems, it’s a feature.