How Facts Backfire

1091 Words5 Pages
Humanity is in a perpetual state of trying to make living in the world an easier place. In just a few seconds, people can access information at their disposal, instead of having to look through different books to find what you need. But the question arises; does this boundless place for information honestly make us more informed than before we had the internet? Joe Keohane, the author of the article “How Facts Backfire,” is a political journalist who has also written articles on technology and culture. He decided to write this article during the midterm election to help educate voters that they need to be better informed about a topic before they make a decision. Nicholas Carr, the author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” is an American writer…show more content…
The author states that the one of the many flaws in a democracy is the fact that people have the right to vote without having knowledge on the subject. He understands that people make decisions based off their morals, not on the knowledge they have on a subject. Keohane adds that as a self-defense mechanism people, when they are faced with a mental conflict that occurs where their beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information; this is called cognitive dissonance. He goes on to explain the theory of motivated reasoning, which is where people have two facts presented to them where one fact contradicts their principals, and they end up choosing the fact that is closest to their ideals. According to Keohane people with higher self-esteem are more likely to acknowledge new information than people with insecurities. The author explains at the end of the article that there is no solution to the process of being…show more content…
Carr blames the change in our brain, while Keohane blames the psychological aspects of the mind. Carr states that information overload that the internet is providing, has a great impact on, "shaping the neural circuits inside our brains" (62). Different technologies throughout the years, for example, the production of the steam engine has impacted the brain. None of the inventions have quite changed the makeup of the brain quite like the internet (63). Keohane unlike Carr believes that information surplus is changing the intellectual part of our mind. The author explains that "backfire", "cognitive dissonance", and "motivated reasoning", are natural protections for the brain in order to shield itself from ideas that contradict its own. He believes that information glut only worsens backfire, not that it changes the makeup of the human brain. The difference between Carr and Keohane is, Carr believes that information overload is transforming the human mind. Keohane believes that the psychological conditions of the brain are
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