Wednesday, May 22, 2013


so I'm not going to get too excited right now but this is encouraging, especially given the facts that pointing out wingnut errors will backfire.
How to Humble a Wing Nut
By Cass R. Sunstein May 20, 2013 3:00 PM MT
Bloomberg News

...consider an intriguing study by Philip Fernbach, a University of Colorado business school professor, and his colleagues. Their central finding is that if you ask people to explain exactly why they think as they do, they discover how much they don’t know -- and they become more humble and therefore more moderate. 

The third step was the crucial one; they were asked to “describe all the details you know about [for example, the impact of instituting a ‘cap and trade’ system for carbon emissions], going from the first step to the last, and providing the causal connection between the steps.”  

The results were stunning. On every issue, the result of requesting an explanation was to persuade people to give a lower rating of their own understanding -- and to offer a more moderate view on each issue.

The lesson is subtle: What produces an increase in humility, and hence moderation, is a request for an explanation of the causal mechanisms that underlie people’s beliefs. 

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