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Correcting misinformation and cognitive bias

affinis's picture

False beliefs are often very “sticky” and resistant to change. If you’ve ever argued with a climate change denialist, you know what I mean.

But there’s good empirical research that has shown some approaches to be more successful than others. For example, the oft-used “Myth versus Fact” format for pamphlets may not be particularly successful – inadvertently reinforcing the myths – after a few days, people end up misremembering the myths as facts.

Based on the existing research, in 2011, John Cook (Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland) and Stephan Lewandowsky (Psychologist at University of Western Australia) put together The Debunking Handbook. It’s brilliant, and I’ve posted it at Corrente once before.

More recently, Lewandowsky has published a review paper with much additional information, useful both for those seeking to correct myths held by others as well as for those seeking to ameliorate their own cognitive biases: Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing

In addition, here, here, and here are posts on techniques of cognitive debiasing from the community blog Less Wrong.