InfluenceChronicles.com -- When attempting to present the facts in a heated public controversy, spokespeople will often find themselves in conversations like this:
Spokesperson: As you know, the sun rises in the east.
Person: That's one opinion.
Spokesperson: No, it’s not an opinion. It’s a physical fact that the sun rises in the east.
Person: And who decided it’s a “fact”? The fake news media? The occupying one-world-order government that lies about chemical contrails? I don’t believe anything they say.
Spokesperson: (Befuddled) Contrails? No, look, we’re talking about the sun. Look out the window. See, the sun is rising from the east.
Person: Well, of course you have to say that. You’re getting paid by them.
We can expect many more such enlightening exchanges in the years ahead.
For millions of years, PR people have responded to concocted allegations and distortion by putting the facts “out there.” Sure, there will be disagreement about the completeness, context and meaning of the information. But the facts are everyone’s truths, undeniable and irrefutable.
New research, however, says this approach is counterproductive.
Scientists at University College London gathered a group of climate change believers and skeptics, then told them that new hard data either contradicted or supported their beliefs. They found that when people got information confirming what they already believed to be true, their opinions were strengthened. But when people received information that contradicted their opinions, they simply shrugged it off.
The unhappy irony is that despite having information technology to verify most claims and assertions, getting the facts out there is likely to amplify the holding power of misinformation and fake news. We’re becoming a nation increasingly polarized not on meaning, but on the facts themselves.
Or not. It depends where your head is at.