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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Facts Don’t Unify Us

By Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein
The New York Times
Originally published September 2, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

These findings help explain polarization on many issues. With respect to the Affordable Care Act, for example, people encounter good news, to the effect that it has helped millions of people obtain health insurance, and also bad news, to the effect that health care costs and insurance premiums continue to increase. For the act’s supporters, the good news will have far more impact than the bad; for the opponents, the opposite is true. As the sheer volume of information increases, polarization will be heightened as well.

Essentially the same tale can be told with respect to immigration, terrorism, increases in the minimum wage — and candidates for the highest office in the land. Voters are now receiving a steady stream of both positive and negative information about Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. Which kind of news will have a large impact will depend partly on people’s motivations and initial convictions.

But there’s an important qualification. In our experiment, a strong majority showed movement; few people were impervious to new information. Most people were willing to change their views, at least to some extent.

The article is here.
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