Idiots online immune to truth, say experts
Remember that annoying person you argue with online? The one who won't listen to you regardless of how much factual information you calmly present them with? The one who still thinks that Iraq launched the world trade centre attacks, or that Sandy Hook was all a hoax? Well, it turns out that throwing good, honest facts at them isn't going to work. So says a new study by researchers at Ohio State.
Professors Brian Weeks and Kelly Garrett tested three groups of people by giving them an factually correct article about electronic health records.
Then, they tried three tests. They gave the first bunch an article filled with factual errors, supposedly from a political blog, about how easy it was for people to access someone's electronic health record. The article said, for example, that hospital administrators, health insurance companies, and employers have unrestricted access to electronic health records (they don't). The test subjects were told about the errors after they'd been distracted by working on a different task for three minutes.
The second group was presented with the 'blog post', but instead of having to wait for the corrections, they were given an annotated version of the post, with factual errors called out and corrected.
The final lot were given the inaccurate blog post and not shown any corrections.
The professors then tested each group by asking them how easy it is for different groups to access electronic records. They measured the accuracy of the groups' beliefs, and cross-referenced it against how quickly they were corrected.
Guess what? People who were against electronic health records in the first place ended up with less accurate beliefs. Even if they were given an article with errors that were immediately corrected, they held onto their preconceptions.
"Among those who oppose EHRs, the effect of the immediate correction on beliefs is statistically comparable to no correction at all," the study said.
In short, you can tell someone the truth until you're blue in the face, and back it up with solid, factual evidence. But if they really want to believe something stupid, they'll carry on doing it.
Let the flame wars continue.Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets