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. Wow talk about some fact free triggering.

    “Karen, you’re wrong if you think the illegal population is far greater than believed.”

    Wasn’t what she said. However nice to you admit that its true.

    “There are a number of indicators statisticians can compare.”

    Sure to make the low end guesses but thats it.

    ” School enrollments, Arrests, Emergency Room Visits, Gas, Water & Electric Use, Garbage Collections, Transactions At Currency Exchanges, Mass Transit Ridership, etc.”

    None of these things expressly document illegal aliens. In fact all the these things expressly work hard to cover up illegal aliens.

    “Back in 2000, the L.A. Unified School District reached its peak enrollment. L.A. was building new schools at a rapid clip then because it expected enrollment to keep rising. That same year border crossing arrests reached their all-time peak.

    Interestingly L.A. school enrollment tampered off after 2000. And coincidentally arrests at the border began a 17 year decline. Therefore this idea that illegal immigrants could still be surging, off the radar, is quite unlikely.”

    You also fail to point out the US citizens have been fleeing these areas and the state massively for 20+ years. The huge amount of US citizen flight not just from the state but from these cities areas in general would more then account for the “stabilization” and decline in these numbers. Further the state have many many reasons to lie about all of these factors such as losing house seats. Being that the states spends a huge sum of money, time and effort to protect and cover up for illegal aliens such figures are all suspect at best.

    Any claim for illegal aliens so always be considered the low end.

  2. I misremember facts to fit my beliefs. When Chuck Todd called Ferguson Missouri a Ghetto I was mad. I had just been back to Ferguson and had driven all around town and looked at the nice homes. What Todd had in his mind was that the population was 70 percent black. So Chucky boy assumes the town is poor and dangerous and ugly. Wrong! Where did Chuck boy go to high school? I would like to defame his home town.

  3. Easy to see who they are. The ones that NEVER provide sources and facts and the ones that provide as sources those who never provide sources and facts.

  4. Point well taken. Every now & again a person will make a statement that I carry with me. One of note that is tangential to this: The biggest liars to ourselves is ourselves. Translated: cognitive dissonance can work wonders.

  5. There is no reliable way to count illegal immigrants. They don’t raise their hands to be counted. It is all estimates, and should be treated as such.

    The only actual data we have are how many applied for drivers licenses as illegal immigrants in CA. Those who have stolen identities would likely not do so. There are also some figures from law enforcement, including ICE.

    Therefore, any illegal alien figures should be viewed merely as estimates.

    That said, I recall a study long ago in which the participants were asked what they thought the murder rate was in NYC. Then they were given the factual data, which was lower than their estimate. After an interval of time, they were asked the same question again. Although they did adjust their estimate downwards, it still far exceeded the actual murder rate. That was because they perceived NYC as a dangerous city, especially after the Central Park Jogger gang rape shocked the nation.

    1. Karen, you’re wrong if you think the illegal population is far greater than believed. There are a number of indicators statisticians can compare. School enrollments, Arrests, Emergency Room Visits, Gas, Water & Electric Use, Garbage Collections, Transactions At Currency Exchanges, Mass Transit Ridership, etc.

      Back in 2000, the L.A. Unified School District reached its peak enrollment. L.A. was building new schools at a rapid clip then because it expected enrollment to keep rising. That same year border crossing arrests reached their all-time peak.

      Interestingly L.A. school enrollment tampered off after 2000. And coincidentally arrests at the border began a 17 year decline. Therefore this idea that illegal immigrants could still be surging, off the radar, is quite unlikely.

  6. This is one reason the police will separate witnesses and interview them as soon as possible. If they discuss the event their “memory” will change. Just thinking about it can change the image. During the circus Schiff would recite the same statement every time the floor was returned to him. They ask the same question again and again. “witnesses” changed their testimony after hearing it a few dozen times. One stated “Oh yea I hadn’t thought about it that way, but your are right?” then changed the answer to fit Schiff’s description of the events. It’s in the transcript. I know it is because I remember hearing it. Don’t take my word for it read the transcript!
    The detective will carry a notebook and make notes as he investigates so he can refresh his memory when called to testify weeks even months later for this same reason.

    Thanks for the article. Something to read on a rainy afternoon.

  7. I will relent the Cubs actually have won a World Series in the last 10 years. The Rangers are sadly still trying not to give it away. Texas having the Astros as saving grace has allowed me to keep my head up and hope the new stadium this year brings the Rangers luck.

  8. Do we get to hear from you how strong that ‘tend to’ vector actually is?

    1. I think it is actually much simpler. The culture of instant gratification is just as pervasive in the news as in anything else; and it completely overrides the ability to question own assumptions.

  9. You based your conclusions on one “study” that recruited 120 participants from the Midwestern US, median age 25 using “eye-tracking instruments” with telling references.

    From the methods paragraph of the “study”, page 6



    We recruited 120 participants from a Midwestern university in the United States and the surrounding community. Participants were compensated with $15 for taking part in the study. Ten participants were excluded from the analysis, either because they were wearing glasses or contacts that interfered with the calibration of our eye-tracking instruments or because they did not follow task instructions while in the eye tracker (e.g., dismounted their heads in the middle of the eye-tracking task, etc.). We analyzed data from the remaining 110 participants (57% female; M age = 24.8 years, SD age = 6.5, age range = 18–56 years; see Supporting Information for additional demographic information).

    some references:

    Greenberg, J., Sherman, A., Tobias, M., & Valverde, M. (2019, January 8). Live fact-checkingPresident Donald Trump’s immigration address. Politifact.

    Rizzo, S. (2019). Fact-checking president Trump’s Oval Office address on immigration.The Washington Post


    It is curious how the MSM “fact checks” Trump daily. Obama was considered their Savior without nary a cough by them to the lies he told, impeachable abuses of his presidential powers, abuse of DOJ and Attorney Generals and his attacking of millions of Americans for 8 years

    1. Estovir, the most well known fact checker column is by Glenn Kessler, now of the WaPo who whatever else one thinks of him has been attacked by both Democrats and Republicans for prejudice. His column dates back at least 20 years and he has awarded 4 Pinnochios – his worst rating – to Obama multiple times. He currently has Trump at over 15k documented lies and misstatements of facts. You can look them up. More importantly, you know Trump lies repeatedly every day, right? A school kid can see that.

      1. And Glenn Reynolds has been busily demonstrating what a fraud Kessler is.

    2. The “fact checking” is to control the narrative and the revisionist idea of what history and the future will say. The narrative must be controlled in the world of the left otherwise they risk losing power. Our government is vested in the people, not the people elected to represent us. The left is trying to change that dynamic. They cannot allow freedom of thought-provoking ideas. If people think to much they will become leaders instead of the followers they need to become.

      Obama was never challenged because he was the narrator of origin followed by other dutiful leaders, they are not to be challenged about what they are doing. Like lap dogs, we are to become recipients of the occasional pat on the head and dismissed because they know what is best for us. Not exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind for us, who wanted individual rights and independence out of the hands of government.

  10. JT adds to the fake news by continuing his attack on Chuck Todd for acknowledging an actual fact: There is at best a 50-50 chance that anything Trump says is true because he doesn’t care what is true and apparently those who still support him don’t either. This is an easily observable and documented fact, not an opinion, and wonders why JT can’t admit it.

  11. It is a fact that the US just committed war crimes in Iraq. Remember this day.

    All officials responsible for this crime should be held to account in a court of law.

    1. Did you cry when Americans were and are still killed by these terrorists, as you surf the internet in the comfort of your own cozy home?

      Not surprisingly the elitist MSM and opportunist Democrat presidential candidates see outrage about Soleimani assassination but they did not during Obama and Hillary’s lies re: Benghazi murders of Americans and every single foreign policy failure

      Proud to be an American


      The Soleimani Assassination Is America’s Most Important Strike This Century

      Phillip Smyth, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who studies Iran’s military forces and their proxies, called the attack on Soleimani the most important decapitation strike America has ever launched, because it’s against a state-backed entity “totally different than ISIS or al-Qaeda.”

      “We are talking about the core leadership of a transnational Iranian-led network,” he told us. “They controlled tens of thousands of fighters throughout the region and were old hands—true believers. These were the people who were creating the future for Iran’s imperial project.” (The Islamic State is believed to still have perhaps 14,000 to 15,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria

      U.S. soldiers who fought in the Iraq War have bitter memories of Soleimani and the bloodshed he unleashed in the country. Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican who served in Iraq, said in a statement that Soleimani “got what he richly deserved, and all those American soldiers who died by his hand also got what they deserved: justice.” Seth Moulton, a Democrat in the House of Representatives and an Iraq War veteran who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s Iran policy, issued a statement late Thursday night calling Soleimani “an enemy of the United States with American blood on his hands.”

      1. Estovir, there were 10 congressional investigations of Benghazi, 6 under GOP control. None found Obama or Hillary guilty of lying or a cover up.

        The killing of this general is most significant for raising the stakes in Iraq and we do not have a tactically good position there. Not only is Iran the big powerful country immediately to the north, but both countries are majority Shite, as is the dominant power now in both countries. The Iraqi government is not surprisingly reacting very negatively to this incident and it’s hard to see how we maintain any presence there without great difficulty. We might say good, let’s go, but we further cede influence to Iran and Russia if we do so and to the detriment of Sunni Saudi Arabia, the main counterwright in the region.

      2. Estovir, to quote Yogi Berra again: “It ain’t over till it’s over”.

        We won’t know how wise the airstrike was until this new year has ended.

    2. Jill, are you referring to the killing of the terrorist leader that was just killed? He and his group have been declared terrorists since 2005. He was personally responsible for the killing of over 600 Americans during our fighting in Iraq. By proxy he killed using Al Queda, Hezbollah, ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He advises many groups in the strategy of killing to get control. He had met with the militia leader that had attacked the US Embassy just a few days ago. That militia leader had been a visitor to the White House under Obama … so his form of diplomacy did not work, but obviously emboldened the bad actions. That militia group was behind the attacking and killing of an American contractor days before. This top General was killed just 15 MILES from the American Embassy in Bagdad … did the significance of that detail escape you? If you poke a lion often enough, it will attack you. Iran has orchestrated attacks on US interests around the world for decades with little resistance to their bad actions. This administration is the first in decades to require the accountability for wrong actions. Maybe now the surrogates he was controlling will sit up and take notice to the fact that they WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE and they have a choice to make … living peacefully with the rest of the world, or meet a force they have not seen before to their bad actions.

    1. SGB, your study is a hodge podge of survey’s in which public perceptions are inaccurate. However the various surveys used dont necessarily form any particular picture. They simply note that on certain issues the public tends to either overestimate or underestimate the actual data regarding a situation. Longtime readers of public opinion polls would find no surprises here.

      1. Seth – all research by its very nature captures a moment in time and is limited to an “n” that is considered statistically accurate. This study asks questions about specifically facts, most of which are sourced via government supplied data. It illustrates that people who id as Democrats are least likely to correctly answer most of the questions. From there we can posit the Why’s. My guess is Democrats are constantly watching biased news that obscures truth to push a social agenda. It often leaves out pertinent facts in order to create an impression that is false. In 8 of 10 questions in which the electorate was wrong, it was because they believed the typical progressive/liberal tropes – ie: who pays the most taxes… who is taxed at the highest rate … how much money is spent on public school education. Over and underestimating is not the issue .. understanding the relevant facts is.

        1. SGB, as I noted your study is a hodgepodge of studies. It’s a hodgepodge because your source was seeking surveys in which Democrats were off-base in their perceptions. That reveals the bias of ‘your’ source. Another source might have used a hodgepodge of surveys to show Republicans are off in their perceptions. That’s why I noted that your study ‘forms no particular picture’.

          And I also took a good look at your source. It appears to be a conservative-friendly site. So when a conservative-friendly site uses a hodgepodge of surveys to show that Democrats are wrong in their perceptions, the study can be taken with a heavy grain of salt.

          1. Unlike the liberally -biased media surveys you rely on from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS which so often create questions which intend to pursue biased responses, this survey merely asked people if they knew the facts or not. Democrats don’t because they are constantly bombarded with pre-written lines from the Press who are parrotting the Democrat talking points of the day. It’s okay to just acknowledge the truth that, unlike conservatives who have to search out conservative leaning Press and thus have a more holistic source of information, 92% of the Press votes Democrat and the bias has been shown consistantly for years and the diseducation of the population reflects it – just as the research I showed you suggest. But you just keep believing your lyng eyes, since the last 3 years have been replete with lies by the Press and so many Democrat politicians. It’s okay to be deluded if you enjoy ignorance is bliss life.

            1. SGB. we know what we’ve seen these past 3 years. Trump’s Twitter feeds gives us an e-trail of every thought he had.

  12. And there in a nutshell, you have the reason for the garbled claims made by the Pinko posters on this blog.

  13. I am sure you are right about the Cubs, JT. However, we know how unreliable fact witnesses can be.

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