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Dumb Internet Commenters Believe What They Want to Believe and Will Never Change, Sorry

Illustration for article titled Dumb Internet Commenters Believe What They Want to Believe and Will Never Change, Sorry

Imagine if "instant corrections" popped up every time you read something that wasn't true on the internet. Life-changing, right?!? No way. According to a recent study, stubborn fools who are already inclined to believe that vaccines cause autism/Obama wasn't born in the U.S./the apocalypse is nigh will go on believing what they want to believe regardless of the facts.

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"Real-time corrections do have some positive effect, but it is mostly with people who were predisposed to reject the false claim anyway," R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, told EurekAlert. "The problem with trying to correct false information is that some people want to believe it, and simply telling them it is false won't convince them."

Regardless, Garrett said, eventually software that alerts you to bullshit claims will exist; it's actually already in the works. But the study proves that paranoid people who trust their own delusions would rather stay that way instead of educating themselves.

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"Humans aren't vessels into which you can just pour accurate information," he said. (But wouldn't that be convenient?)

Not only that, instant corrections actually "increase resistance" among 9-11 truthers and the like. Which means that trying to correct a commenter who spams blogs with comments like "BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA IS A KENYAN TERRORIST" would only make him more hellbent on spreading his beliefs.

"We would anticipate that systems like Dispute Finder [an experimental corrections system] would do little to change the beliefs of the roughly one in six Americans who, despite exhaustive news coverage and fact checking, continue to question whether President Obama was born in the U.S.," Garrett said, adding that "it may be better to find a way to deliver corrections later, when people may not be so defensive about their beliefs." What constitutes "later"? Our dreams?

[EurekAlert]

Image via ostill/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

What are 9-11 truthers exactly? People who believe in the overwhelming information concluding it was an inside job? I'm totally one of those, but I thought that idea was more mainstream these days. Or at least the fact that two planes couldn't have caused such calculated damage, or even that it was a job done by Terrorists. Now that Katie is scoffing I feel self-conscience and need to know what the cool kids really think. Jezebel 101 would also make an excellent coffee table book, while we're at it.