In a study titled “There Must Be a Reason: Osama, Saddam and Inferred Justification” published in the journal Sociological Inquiry, sociologists from four major research institutions looked into the high level of persistent belief in America that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were responsible for the attacks of 9/11, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The study results:
“Our data shows substantial support for a cognitive theory known as ‘motivated reasoning,’ which suggests that rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe…The study demonstrates voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information. The argument here is that people get deeply attached to their beliefs.”
The researchers describe the observed pattern of motivated reasoning is a “serious challenge to democratic theory and practice that results when citizens with incorrect information cannot form appropriate preferences or evaluate the preferences of others.”
So, to recap… We’ve broken ourselves into feuding teams which are no longer making governing decisions based on reality but on what we want to pretend is true?
(Postscript: If you’re liberal and feeling smug right about now, then think again. You do it too.)