In yesterday's post, "Rules for reactionaries: practice sheer hypocrisy," it was discovered that the quotes Glenn Beck read on his show from the Prologue of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals did not exist. It was fabricated like much of what Beck claims. Why don't Beck's followers rebel? Why don't they reject Beck for lying to them as much as he does? The answer is that people don't want to experience "cognitive dissonance." People want to believe his because to do otherwise would require that they've been wrong, and very few people have what it takes to do this.
In an article from last Sunday's Boston Globe entitled "How facts backfire," author Joe Keohane reviewed research which shows that truth in the end may not win the day. Researchers at the University of Michigan have determined that when misinformed people, especially extremely partisan people, are presented with facts that do not comport with their beliefs, they actually strengthen their misinformed beliefs. This has to be the best news Glenn Beck has heard all year, and it's the most frustrating information attained by The Glenn Beck Review since its inaugural post, Does Glenn Beck lie? (Volume I).
In the article, Keohane explains:
The research shows that the people most persuaded by the facts are the uninformed. They don't have a stake in the false beliefs built up over a period of years. From Keohane's blog:...most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.
“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”
Matt Yglesias pointed out that this isn’t new because Americans have never been an informed citizenry when it comes to their government–and as I pointed out in the story, this is whoppingly true–however, you need to make a distinction between uninformed and misinformed. Uninformed people will listen, misinformed people probably won’t. This is why this research is so interesting. It works from the premise that the problem in America isn’t uninformed voters, but misinformed ones.
Posting facts in comments on Glenn Beck's website, where his supporters defend him like he is some kind of Messiah or, more accurately a cult of personality, this phenomenon comes into clear focus. From Glenn Beck: Smell the sulpher, 7/16/2010:
Miriam Case Brother Beck, You can't please everyone. You are doing a great job, and my husband, and I, enjoy your show and books. Keep up the good work, and don't back down.
Evelyn Lewis Glenn you are one of the great voices for truth out there on the front lines. Thank you so much.
Les Lindon Garner We may not have identical religious beliefs, but deeply admire your courage in light of the twisted messages and methodologies being used against you and all of us who respect the Constitution. These people are perverting Christianity and even if someone doesn't necessarily go to church, and even though there are bad apples in every barrel, the underlying message of Christianity as held by our founders is directly opposed to the kind of tyranny these people would justify in the name of God. It's one thing to disagree with another's faith; it's something altogether different and evil, I believe, to purposefully attempt to twist the words of someone's faith in order to demonize them as this so obviously attempts to do. We may differ on specifics of practice and dogma, but the underlying principals, Mr. Beck, are the same and I applaud you for your work....
Smell the sulfur indeed!
The question then begs to be asked: what is the point of The Glenn Beck Review? First, there is a former supporter who was encouraged to question Beck's agenda. Her quest for the truth will soon be written as a guest post soon. Second, there are millions of people who have no idea who Glenn Beck is. They are the uninformed, at least about Beck's version of the "truth." These are the people who need to be reached before the extraordinary salesman, the most excellent con man alive, Glenn Beck, reaches them and sucks them into his vortex of regression, deceit and fake "punditry."
Before more people start tuning into Beck'sCONvincing propaganda,
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