Backfire Effect

May 22, 2014
The world just keeps getting stranger:

It turns out that educating US adults about factual errors in their beliefs does not work: “If someone held a contrary attitude, the correction not only didn’t work—it made the subject more distrustful of the source.

Strong partisanship affected how a story about climate change was processed, even if the story was apolitical in nature, such as an article about possible health ramifications from a disease like the West Nile Virus …

If information doesn’t square with someone’s prior beliefs, he discards the beliefs if they’re weak and discards the information if the beliefs are strong.

If factual correction is ineffective, how can you make people change their misperceptions?”  New

Backfire effect: A recent healthcare study by Dartmouth researchers found that when educated Palin supporters were given the correct information about the supposed “death panels”, educated Conservatives became even “more likely to believe in death panels and to strongly oppose reform (than) if they received the correction.” ??? The Hazards of Correcting Myths …

Reliable research now shows that even well-educated Conservatives simply reply “Nugh-unhhh” and irrationally dig in their heels, when presented facts that contradict their personal opinions, even on key issues like the mythical “death panels”.

This might explain why years of Conservative’s comments  on Yucalandia have only been able to make vitriolic and frankly childish comments in reply to facts like:
~ US states controlled by Conservatives have the highest rates of child poverty,

~ Conservative US states rank 29’th in the world (with Bulgaria) for children’s education and standards of living,   and

~ Conservative US states receive the majority of US federal government welfare, in spite of their living Conservative principles.


America seriously needs to change.
As long as blocks of people stubbornly cling to false beliefs,  we’re going to be stuck being the next-to-worst country (29’th) in the industrialized world.
We used to value doing things well.

We used to value being a good nation, taking good care of our children – making good futures for the next generations.

Now USA as #1: 
~ We still have the biggest bombs.
~ The USA still has the highest %’s of people in prison.  
~ We still spend the highest %’s of our resources on the military,  putting our military into 75% of the world’s countries – a record high in the history of humans.

… as our US children face worse food poverty rates than Mexico…

Get out and vote for change in the next election…

* * * * * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

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29 Responses to Backfire Effect

  1. Bob Cox says:

    Steve, be prepared for a blast of vitriolic statements. I´ve mentioned these same things to a few people and they just get angry at me. So now I just sit in the shade of a palm tree sipping a coco loco and watch them sink. Have a nice day amigo (I know you will).

  2. Edward says:

    I enjoy getting updates about Mexico from your site. However, it would be much better if the bias political posts were left out. These posts just alienate part of your readers. It may be those readers who have good information to share and do not because they are put off by a political forum.

    • sdibaja says:

      I agree… I am on the verge of going away and not returning

      • HARVEY says:

        I also feel that it is another Liberal blog !

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi HARVEY,
        Did you take the time to read the 8 Mexico related items from the past 2 weeks?

        What have you contributed in the past?
        Have you researched or written anything and posted it here before – to help others?
        Is your only contribution to criticize?
        Have you answered anyone’s questions?

        Really, except for one exception, the people complaining have not contributed or helped others at all. no apparent help given by complainers who are happy to use free services and free information, without bringing anything helpful to the table here – which may simply be a coincidence, but it’s been a consistent quality of conservatives on Yucalandia for the past 6 years.

        As a centrist independent, I’m no liberal nor am I a “Liberal”, and I’m also not anti-Conservative. During the Clinton era, I was very busy cataloging and describing the Clintons/Gore problems.

        I must somehow be a Liberal because I point out facts that are problems for conservatives?
        Nah. As a scientist, I tend to focus and act on the most prominent issues, and the 2007-2010 Fiscal Crisis and its results and roots still looms large as the biggest problem of the last 15 years – whose roots that still need to be resolved/fixed. $7 Trillion of losses due to Conservative’s wild policies of restricting the SEC from stopping negative interest loans, 30:1 and 40:1 Margin borrowing approved by Bush and Hank Paulson, credit default swaps that allowed people to “insure” themselves against losses on assets that they did not own, and the Bush approved policy of allowing JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs et al to issue 8 million virtual shares of Bear Stearns stock as naked short sales (to take down BS), and then Bush & Co’s conservatives allowing those same Wall Street investment “bankers” to issue another 30 million virtual Lehman Bros. shares as naked short sales (to take down Lehman), plus conservative Paulson’s moves to lower bank’s $$ reserve requirements, caused financial panics and suffering on world-wide scales not seen since the 1930’s.

        The Bush/Paulson/Conservative’s big Financial Crisis really has only been matched in ugliness by Obama’s and Holder’s refusals to prosecute the people responsible, and the Obama administrations inaction on pushing any real fiscal/investing reforms.

        If reporting pertinent facts on the biggest problems of the era are somehow thought of as “Liberal” by some readers, and if addressing appropriate corrections to the problems is labelled as “Liberal”: Then maybe those readers are great examples of recent research results on “the Backfire Effect”, where well-educated people are unable to accept facts that contradict their personal beliefs, and those people also retreat to criticizing the source, rather than evaluating reality.

        Have any of the critics offered a single verifiable fact that contradicts the evidence that annoys them?

        not yet…

      • HARVEY says:

        Well thank you ! Just trying to observe and get to know you all.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Edward,
      What happened to changing the channel, or going on to the next thing?

      The posts that report facts and findings about what’s going on in the USA are clearly identified as such in the ledes – so if a reader reacts negatively to such things – why not take ownership – and ignore it, or go on?

  3. Peter says:

    Credibility, nothing else.
    Many do not trust the source, or the “information” does not make logical sense.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Peter,
      It proves the point.
      When facts contradict people’s beliefs, they revert to questioning the credibility, rather than considering that their perceptions may not fit reality.

      When you don’t like the facts (news – message) – shoot the messenger.

      If a reader is offended,
      who is the owner of the button, and
      who created the button that has been pushed?

      Do we really want to follow a code of
      Blame the bearer of bad news ?

  4. Dave and Cheryl says:

    What happened to the old “Surviving Yucatan”? I used to get great info on Mexican problems. Cheryl Los Barriles, BCS, Mex

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Dave and Cheryl,
      Have you read the last 2 weeks of Yucalandia posts and updates?

      We apologize for reporting on ebay hacking – which affects 10,000’s of expats living in Mexico who shop online.

      We apologize for reporting on a republican bill to give Permanent Residency to Mexican citizens who have served as American soldiers and sailors. If we notify our Congressional Reps, Mexicans living in the USA benefit.

      We apologize for multiple updates of Mexican Immigration policies at both Mexican Consulates and INM offices.

      We apologize for multiple updates of information on importing cars into Mexico.

      We apologize for reporting on Mexican lizards in Mexican toilets, and Mexican scorpions killing big Mexican roaches.

      A bit of fact checking shows that all of these informational updates happened in just the last 2 weeks on Yucalandia (see our main INM/Immigration to Mexico and Aduana/Importing stuff to Mexico articles).

      Is this another example of how educated readers give a backlash to facts that differ from their personal belief?

      Did the irritated readers track Yucalandia’s 8 Mexico-related reports and updates on immigration and import issues in just the last 2 weeks?

      Sorry that some readers only see and only comment on things that bug them, ignoring the other factual reports on policy and rule changes in Mexico…
      Which may prove the point of this post???

    • sdibaja says:

      Yes, I do miss the info on Mexico also.
      If there is nothing to report about issues of expats living in Mexico silence is better than this.
      I have many news sources for that other stuff

      on top of it all my posts are refused unless I log into a wordpress account.

      • yucalandia says:

        sdi baja,
        Did you see the 6 Mexican immigration and Mexican customs policy change updates (published here) in the past 2 weeks?

        Re posting comments: I don’t think we have any control over WordPress policies.
        Their policy seems similar to all the major web-boards in Mexico (gotta log in).

        I’m checking into it.

      • sdibaja says:

        Yes I saw your Immigration and Customs posts. Thanks for that.
        When you get into other political rants is where I have the issues. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I think you are out to lunch. But agreeing is not the point, I just don’t want to hear it.
        In the past WordPress did not require an account or logging in. Because of security concerns I am on the verge of boycotting them.
        Enjoy, Peter

  5. dennischp says:

    Steven, you sound like a Democrat. That is not a slam. I was a Democrat for 52 years and followed party lines. Well my friend the party lines have switched. Remember it was Lincoln and what is known now as the Republican party that caused slavery to disappear. But now the Democratic party has used that to now enslave once again the poor. The false premise that government can take better care of you is a farce. All one has to do is look at all of the socialistic country past and present to see what happens. I invite you to visit Cuba as I have and see how socialism is working out for them. It isn’t. At one time in my life I owned a Real Estate and Property Management firm in the San Francisco East Bay. It included most of two counties, the rich and the very poor. A majority of our apartment complexes were for Section 8 folks. Some could not work but most could but wouldn’t. They would stay for a year or two, destroy the apartment and move to a new one. The Government would then come in and pay us for all the damage (your tax dollar at work). Then we would wait months for reimbursement. Very, Very inefficient as all socialism.

    I work with the poor everyday in Mexico as a missionary for the last 11 years. The poor here are born into poverty and then strive to make it better for the kids. For the most part, the American poor to a degree have similar circumstances but nothing like the Mexican poor and are lazy for the most part and just sit on their fannies. But my Mexican poor will take and do any job as they are definitely not lazy but instead for the most part just uneducated. The American poor have the opportunity for education but are not motivated properly by most of their families. We need to teach the poor how to fish not give them free fish were they put out no effort. The effort to take care of their families gives them the reward of accomplishment and pride because they the father or mother are providing for the children NOT THE GOVERNMENT.

    P.s. I am now an independent and will never again vote along party lines. I will only vote for those I VET. If all of us had vetted properly we would not have elected Obama who is the most unqualified person in the office of the president we have ever had. EVEN worse than Carter.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Dennis,
      Sorry to sound like a Democrat.

      If you read the stuff on my FB page, you’d find entire articles on Obama’s inappropriate use of drones and kill lists, Obama’s and NATO’s use of the CIA and secret $$100 million to overthrow the previous government of Ukraine, and how Obama, with CIA, NATO, FBI, and Eurozone help are ramming through the creation of entirely new political parties and pseudo-national candidates for a “Presidential Election” in Ukraine in just 3 weeks – in a process that has completely left out the candidates and interests of the populous regions in eastern and southern Ukraine – under Obama’s and NATO’s banner of supposed “Ukrainian Unity”… Can any representative government and political parties and valid elections be completely created and rammed-through in just 3 weeks – and still claim legitimacy?

      I personally think we need better leadership all around….
      I think that comes from voting by a well-informed populace.

      and yes, Americans LIVING IN YUCATAN can and should VOTE –
      making all these issues pertinent for Americans here.

      Since Mexicans share the same bed with the very big US elephant, Mexicans (and those who live in Mexico) are also very much affected by the vagaries of what happens in US politics….

      Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States…
      Porforio Diaz…

  6. fugawibill says:

    My thought exactly, thank you. Lets get back to the Mexico information, which is why we visit and post on this site.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      PLEASE could we get back to Yucatan? I come to Merida to get away from the rubbish “up there”!

      • yucalandia says:

        Hey Bill,
        Do you really think all these things from the last 2 weeks are not related to Yucatan, and are just “rubbish“:
        ~ 10 Things Mexico Does Better
        ~ New Tactics for Yucatan in the “Dengue Battle”
        ~ Important Update of News for Online Shoppers
        ~ News for Mexican Immigrants – from other Immigrants
        ~ 3 Updates to our Immigration and Visiting Mexico article
        ~ 3 Updates to our Importing Cars and Driving in Mexico article


  7. Lee Resler says:

    My thoughts go along the same lines as sdibaja and dennischp. I have enjoyed this site for some time and grateful for the info given to us about issues here in Mexico. But the decision to share political opinions and not just report on things that directly effect the retired folks living here in Mexico is rapidly turning me off to this site. If this continues I’m gone and will try to find another way to keep up to date on issues that effect me here. I could go on but dennischp took the words right out of my mouth. God bless you Dennis for all you are doing for the folks down here.

    • yucalandia says:

      So, using your criteria, did you follow, contribute, help, or comment on the
      7 different Yucatan-related items published here in the last 2 weeks?

      Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States…
      Porforio Diaz…

  8. yucalandia says:

    Has any other reader noticed some things that all the complainers share in common
    (except for ~ one ~ ): (? )
    ~ They have never written-in to compliment a single thing here.
    ~ They have never said “Thank You” for the service and information they now say they miss.
    ~ They have never paid a dime… for the things they say they now miss.
    ~ They have never researched anything to present to help others here.
    ~ They have never volunteered to contribute or write something of value for the rest of us.

    We welcome contributions !
    Please, research something related to Mexico, write it up, and submit it!

    Interesting that the most vocal people, now, have previously been silent, contributing nothing?

    What does it all mean?

  9. meblabbing says:

    First of all, I believe the USA, (or The Corporate Police States of America,) has some of the finest people on the planet. As Leonard Cohen sings; “The cradle of the best and the worst…”
    However, as someone who has the advantage of being an outside observer, (from Canada,) the entire concept of political polarization rampant south of Canada and north of Mexico is really laughable. With all due respect, is it not blazingly obvious that political parties are merely window dressing to distract the population living in a country where corporations drive all foreign and domestic agendas? You’re wasting your time worrying about red and blue elephants and asses while Haliburton, Pfizer and Monsanto are destroying your reputation and your country. (And working hard on the rest of the world.)

    Thank you for reporting on the Mexican judge’s heart-warming injunction against Monsanto, and all the many other useful tidbits, but I find your posts about the red and blue circus NOB really naive, if mildly amusing.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Meb Labbing,
      I think your comments are the just about the kindest and most respectful of the day.

      I’m very glad that my naiveté gives you some amusement. That seems to be my only positive contribution to the world, today. 😉


  10. Mike says:

    Such a waste of time responding to Steve. If he does not know it, no one can tell him. Selective facts obscuring real truths. Just remember when someone starts giving you statistics, you can be sure that he is lying (maybe too strong a word here), not about the statistics but the inference to what they mean. You can prove anything with statistics as it has long been said. That having been said I do enjoy the site, especially the Mexican information, not always accurate but a sincere attempt to inform and always the basis for further investigation. I will keep reading your blog even if it sometimes is infuriating, so keep finding stuff about Mexico to make us all come back and we will get stuck reading your delusional rants.

    • yucalandia says:


      This pretty much says it all, about well-educated people in denial:
      Just remember when someone starts giving you statistics, you can be sure that he is lying (maybe too strong a word here), not about the statistics but the inference to what they mean.

      Mike has proven the conclusion of the research: Well-educated people attack the source when faced with facts that disprove their personal beliefs.

      Simple counting of US tax dollars received by States is just that: Counting.

      Counting is not “statistics” …
      When I count $17 dollars in my wallet, it is not a statistical process.
      I have $17 … easy … simple … no “lying” …

      When we count the US tax dollars received by States with Republican Conservative legislators, and with Republican Conservative governors, the COUNTING (not statistics) proves that the Conservative states receive the majority of US welfare and Federal aid tax dollars.

      By blowing smoke, Mike tries to discredit the source,
      attacks the messenger,
      and tries to obscure the simple facts that:
      Red State Conservatives are the biggest recipients of Federal welfare and Federal aid….

      So, when the Emperor is naked, and prancing about criticizing other people for being naked, are we all supposed to bow to Conservative’ insistence that they are somehow ~ magically ~ not the problem.

      By simple counting of poor children, and hungry children, and children doing poorly in schools (scoring poorly on Republican-created standardized tests), the counting shows that Conservative states are the worst performers in the USA….

      …. so, can we really “be sure that he is lying
      because Mike ignores the counts of where our tax-dollars are going, and
      Mike ignores the counts of hungry children and counts of poorly performing children in Conservative states?

      Facts and reality can be painful, especially when they contradict closely-held personal beliefs (proving the point of this article and recent research).

      Why have the “Conservatives” commentators only complained or resorted to personal attacks here?

      Why have the “Conservative” complainers here presented zero facts to support their personal beliefs?

      Must we shoot the messenger, and call the bearer of bad-news “a liar“,
      when the facts expose the actual problems?

  11. Mike says:

    “Now USA as #1:
    ~ We still have the biggest bombs.
    ~ The USA still has the highest %’s of people in prison.
    ~ We still spend the highest %’s of our resources on the military, putting our military into 75% of the world’s countries – a record high in the history of humans.

    … as our US children face worse food poverty rates than Mexico…

    Maybe we have the biggest bombs because the others have just not figured out how to make them or went broke trying.
    Maybe having criminals in jail is a good thing.
    If the past tells us anything its that a strong military is absolutely essential to the freedoms we enjoy. The fact that we are willing to defend our friends is not something to criticize.
    The last is probably a bad statistic, I doubt any country spends nearly as much to feed its poor.

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