American Elephants


Turning Lies Into Public Belief: It’s Easy! by The Elephant's Child

Here is a short but  fascinating article, just right for the campaign season. Why do some people repeat erroneous statistics over and over, even after the opposition has illustrated just how erroneous they are?

We’d all like to believe that facts trump falsehoods, but unfortunately this is often not the case. Misinformation is easy to believe, and even easier to spread. An untruth can be repeated into reality by simply bombarding the public via advertisements, news, and social media. It’s that easy.

Psychologists are demonstrating that repetition is the prime conduit for shaping beliefs. In the 1940s, Floyd Allport and Milton Lepkin conducted pioneering research demonstrating that newspapers could be used to boost morale for the war effort. By repeating positive headlines, even if they were misleading with the details, the public would believe that events are going smoothly, and would thus stand firmly behind the cause. The tactic worked to great effect.

Over time, studies have shown that repetition leads to familiarity, which is the key to fostering belief. Dr. Norbert Schwarz, of the University of Michigan said: ( I paraphrase)

Perceived familiarity exerts influence because frequent exposure to an opinion can be a clue that many people share the opinion, providing a social consensus. Daily conversational conduct is based on the assumption that communicated information is truthful and relevant, again influencing acceptance, especially when it seems that one has heard this repeatedly.

Once familiar misinformation is accepted and embedded, it can be difficult to dislodge. Research indicated that any repetition of misinformation, even if the purpose is to debunk, can serve to perpetuate.

The game is: If you want the public to believe something, just yell it louder, say it simpler, and repeat it more often than anybody else.

Closely related: New survey March 15, from Rasmussen Reports: 48% Blame Bad Economy on Bush Recession, 46% Blame Obama’s Policies. This is the highest number of those blaming Obama’s policies in three years. The recession did begin under the Bush administration, but Bush tried so hard and unsuccessfully to get the Democrat Congress to take the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seriously, that it’s a little hard to “blame Bush.”

Our Demagogue-in-Chief has emphasized in nearly every speech that he was left “the worst economy since the Great Depression,” so don’t blame him. And that wasn’t true either.  It wasn’t the worst economy, and recovery could have come much faster. Instead we got ObamaCare, a wasted stimulus, an auto industry bailout (and no, the taxpayers haven’t been paid back) that rewarded the UAW, and simply gave Chrysler to Fiat.  “An untruth can be repeated into reality.

[American Elephant adds: I think even more important than that it wasn't the worst economy, is that Obama didn't inherit it from Bush, he inherited it from Democrats, including himself.

First of all, he and the Democrat party took control of both houses of Congress on January 3, 2007. When they took over, Republicans left them with a growing economy, and an unemployment rate of 4.6%. It wasn't until after Democrats had been in control for a full year that the recession even began (Jan 2007). And it began not because of Bush's policies. Remember, Bush was the outgoing president, and it was the incoming Democrat policies that the markets were reacting to. Bush's policies had been very successful, bringing us out of the dot-com bubble-burst recession, averting a second recession after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and building a robust, growing economy with 52 consecutive months of job growth.

The recession began because Democrats won office promising to repeal the Bush tax cuts, and promising massive new spending and regulation.  And by the end of 2007, beginning of 2008, with Bush very unpopular, and Democrats successfully blaming the new downturn in the economy on him instead of themselves, it looked almost certain that Democrats would win the White House, guaranteeing that they would implement these economy killing policies.

Secondly, the housing/financial crisis didn't happen until TWO years after Democrats took control of congress -- as a result, not cause, of the recession. The recession began, millions of people started losing their jobs, and millions of bad credit-risks, whom the government forced banks to loan to, could no longer afford their homes.

Lastly, it is essential to remember that Obama didn't even inherit a budget from Bush, he inherited, and signed, a budget written by his party. The budget of FY 2009 was written by the Democrat congress, which quadrupled the deficit, and they WITHHELD it from Bush, in an unprecedented move,  so he could not veto it, and held it over until after Obama was inaugurated, and HE, not Bush, signed it into law.

Obama inherited the "worst recession" from no one but himself and his own party.]

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2 Comments so far
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Um, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are hardly the only contributors to the America’s hard times. So have been the trillions of dollars spent on two wars of choice — wars financed through debt increases. But, for some inexplicable reason, the Republican Party seems to always ignore that elephant in the room.

And, as for repeating misinformation, looks to me as if politicians from both major parties have become pretty adept at that.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Ignoring what elephant in the room, Subsidy? No Republican denies spending money on the war. But neither did that spending have anything to do with our current, never-ending Democrat Depression as illustrated by the fact that the economy continued to grow throughout the war, even at the peak of war-spending, and certainly as deficits began to shrink thereafter — that is until Republicans lost control of congress.

It wasn’t until Democrats came to town, bringing with them a whole new set of policies, that the recession even began. And it wasn’t until a year AFTER that, that the financial crisis started.

Your fallacious analogy is like blaming a husband, who had been balancing the checkbook for years, for financial ruin because the wife went out and bought a second home they couldnt afford, “Well! You were spending money before I did!”

Ridiculous.

Comment by American Elephant




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