Is Fake News Hard Wired? Study Finds People Misremember Facts To Fit Their Beliefs

I recently criticized NBC Meet The Press host Chuck Todd for suggesting that Trump supporters are fantasy-prone dimwits who just want to be lied to. A new study may indicate why people across the political spectrum tend to ignore opposing views and rest comfortably with echo-journalism. Researchers at Ohio State University found that people tend to misremember numbers to match their own beliefs. They think that they are basing their views on hard data when they are actually subconsciously tailoring that data to fit their biases.


In the study, participants were given factual numerical information on four different societal issues. The researchers matched the results of two tests to support the views of the subjects and two to contradict those views. For example, one study showed that there were 12.8 million Mexican immigrants in the United States in 2007 but fewer (11.7 million) in 2014. On the divergent studies, the subjects routinely misremembered the numbers. Thus, for people on the immigration issue, the subjects were most likely to misremember the lower figure in 2014 if they opposed current immigration levels.

This explains a lot, but I still insist that the Chicago Cubs have won 9 out of 10 of the last World Series championships.

39 thoughts on “Is Fake News Hard Wired? Study Finds People Misremember Facts To Fit Their Beliefs”

  1. My response to the idea that people misremember facts to fit their beliefs: Daaah! Didn’t take any research to find that out. That’s absolutely nothing new.

  2. What you’re describing is not what fake news is, but how it works. People lie about things, and they’re believed by people who are inclined to, even if they’re shown counter-evidence. For example, in a long discussion about impeachment, I have been told:

    Republicans were excluded from the depositions in the House inquiry, and could not ask questions.

    To prove bribery you must demonstrate that the person bribed would not have acted as they did.

    Substantiate that the Founding Fathers were clearly aware of and accepting of [the centuries old precedent of High Crimes and Misdemeanours] 1774 precedent in 1776.”… Even if they were aware of it, did they act as if they were bound by it? (John Adams wrote the 1774 articles of impeachment. 11 of the Founding Fathers were from Massachusetts, five of those were lawyers.)

    etc.

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