Saturday, April 08, 2006


JSH: What was the experiment?

So I talk about doing social experiments and it's a good time to talk about the one big experiment that has been on-going from the beginning of my posting, which is the question of how groups and individuals respond to the truth.

I have long been curious about whether or not correct information can be presented to people where that information is of great importance, and people just ignore it, or even reject it.

The answer is, yes.

In the past I would even talk about taking down my own credibility as I sought to see if it were possible for the information in and of itself to get picked up by people without needing a personality thought to be correct presenting it.

The answer is, no.

Moving forward I can do things differently, and quite deliberately point out to you that it's a political campaign. I will just run the campaign differently and get a different result.

But what's remarkable to me is how crucial it is for someone you trust to present information to you!!!

Even in mathematics, none of you displayed in any significant degree an ability to simply consider the mathematics itself, where you could determine truth without concern about personalities, and many of you made decisions against your own self-interest proving that the problem is a critical one.

Such an experiment could not have been done without modern networks, and probably can't be done again, once people are aware of this one.

As for the ethics of it, I have no problem with those as I've more than once noted what I was doing, and more than once talked about truth itself as a higher ideal.

Reality though is that most of you believe what you are told and rely on the source of the information, meaning you are vulnerable to people who lie to you that you trust, and you will act against your own self-interest to a great degree to hold on to false information.

Even when presented with very simple mathematical arguments you held on to the false information, and posters often displayed a great deal of anger when their beliefs were challenged.

You dismissed extraordinary information, like publication in a mathematical journal, and even explained away the destruction of that journal.

I saw no limits to your ability to hold on to false information, reject correct information no matter how presented as long as the presenter was not credible to you, and continue with a great deal of confidence in your flawed knowledge.

I have at times injected information into the mainstream by other means to see it flow around the world and even get repeated by some of you relying on trusted sources.

My take on the situation is that there are few limits to the ability to control information and what people believe.

Trusted sources hold the power of life and death as this experiment reveals that people are willing to suffer harm to themselves to hold on to information easily proven to be false.

I think the study can now be concluded.

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