The following is a guest post by Billy Jackson
The Backfire Effect
10 June 2011
The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.
The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.
The backfire effect is constantly shaping your beliefs and memory, keeping you consistently leaning one way or the other through a process psychologists call biased assimilation. Decades of research into a variety of cognitive biases shows you tend to see the world through thick, horn-rimmed glasses forged of belief and smudged with attitudes and ideologies. When scientists had people watch Bob Dole debate Bill Clinton in 1996, they found supporters before the debate tended to believe their preferred candidate won. In 2000, when psychologists studied Clinton lovers and haters throughout the Lewinsky scandal, they found Clinton lovers tended to see Lewinsky as an untrustworthy homewrecker and found it difficult to believe Clinton lied under oath. The haters, of course, felt quite the opposite. Flash forward to 2011, and you have Fox News and MSNBC battling for cable journalism territory, both promising a viewpoint which will never challenge the beliefs of a certain portion of the audience. Biased assimilation guaranteed. (From “The Backfire Effect” by David McRaney — http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/)
Hank Mills, with Sterling Allan wrote an excellent article on PESN entitled, “The History of MIT’s Blatant Suppression of Cold Fusion.” It outlines a very poignant reality that has repressed and inhibited legitimate research into the Field of LENR, due to the continued taint of a 25 year old announcement against the findings of Pons and Fleischmann in 1989 by MIT.
That announcement by MIT had a far reaching effect on the psyches of not just scientists but the public in general. To understand why, you must understand the place that higher institutes of education are held in the public mindset. MIT, Harvard, Caltech, Oxford, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, Cambridge, Univ of London and so on . . . these institutes are considered some of the best in the the world. When a non-informed individual hears these institutes speak with authority on any particular subject of research, it is mostly taken that they are speaking from and with a knowledge base beyond that of your average public education. They are believed not because of what they say, but because of who they are and the public status they have attained.
For the general public or scientist, that was good enough for them.
We must remember that we are all specialists in the knowledge of the history of cold fusion. It is not taught in schools, and only rarely spoken of outside of conspiracy theory. We as individuals have educated ourselves due to personal interest. Ask almost any individual about cold fusion and the most likely answer you’ll get is that its a movie by Keanu Reaves. It is not so far fetched to believe that young and promising scientists have been led to believe or actively warned away from such “junk science” in an effort to keep their careers “untainted”.
We stand now in anticipation of the announcement for the upcoming release on the latest tests for the Rossi E-Cat. We must be prepared to face The Backfire Effect. The Misconceptions and Preconceptions that have persisted as truth will not be let go lightly. Instead they will be clung to like a lifeline. They will argue our data is false, misrepresented, or just flat out lies. We will face challenges to the data that are irrational and irrelevant to the subject at hand. We must also be prepared to face hard legitimate questions that challenge our own bias without lashing out in return due to our own convictions.
The best way to fight against instilled ignorance is not derision and ridicule, but education and irrefutable truths.