Mythbusting doesn’t work

At least it’s harder to convince someone that a myth is false, according to this study posted in the Washington Post:

The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

Schwarz’s study was published this year in the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, but the roots of the research go back decades. As early as 1945, psychologists Floyd Allport and Milton Lepkin found that the more often people heard false wartime rumors, the more likely they were to believe them.

The research is painting a broad new understanding of how the mind works. Contrary to the conventional notion that people absorb information in a deliberate manner, the studies show that the brain uses subconscious “rules of thumb” that can bias it into thinking that false information is true. Clever manipulators can take advantage of this tendency.

Does this mean that websites such as,, and so on are wasting their time?  Absolutely not.  I’m convinced that an intelligent person will see the truth for what it is and decide accordingly.

If not, God help us all.

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