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Facts? We Don’t Need No Stinking Facts!

Psychology, biases

Are your opinions solidly based in fact? Most everyone likes to think so. Yet plenty of research suggests our beliefs are driven more by psychological needs than objective assessments.

To cite just one example, if our desire for security requires us to perceive our society as fair and just, we’re likely to dismiss complaints about economic inequality or police brutality. Entertaining such ideas would mean challenging a comforting premise that fulfills a deep-seated need.

Ah, but what happens when the facts clearly contradict our assumptions? Do we rethink our opinions at that point?

Don’t be silly. New research suggests that, if options such as relying on biased sources of information prove insufficient, many of us simply rely more heavily on “unfalsifiable” assertions—ones that cannot be definitely proven or disproven.

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