Impervious to reality: how defense mechanisms can shut out uncongenial truths.
[ Image Source ]
This is an extreme example, but the article goes on to speak of the many far more commonplace instances in which this theme appears, distorting thinking and replacing sound reasoning with immutable fallacy. Worse, it refers to a tendency among some, when confronted with what everyone else would recognize as indisputable facts that refute their beliefs, not merely to deny those facts, but to harden in their attitudes and argue against them with redoubled vigor.
The article does offer a possible solution, but I find it almost as disheartening as the problem.
It appears that, when people set in a fallacious belief are presented with the actual facts (which belie their belief) in the context of a narrative that affirms the values underlying their belief, they are more likely to heed those facts. The instance supplied was the presentation of the essential science of the greenhouse effect, packaged as an article advocating a free-market nuclear solution more congenial to their value systems, to people otherwise unwilling to consider such information. But this principle, it suggests, could be applied to any of a great many similarly contentious issues.
Where does this leave us, if so?
It seems to me that, psychologically, we are left with a choice between ethics and effectiveness. We can either present uncongenial facts honestly and see them ignored or actively condemned, or we can try to disguise them as part of something they aren’t. That's a pretty depressing conclusion.
I invite analysis and response. Do you think what this article says is true? If so, do you agree with its conclusion that we can only try to prove our points by guile and misdirection? Or is there another way?