What makes someone believe or reject information?

April 12, 2018, Australian National University
Credit: Australian National University

Separating fact from fiction in the age of alternate facts is becoming increasingly difficult, and now a new study has helped reveal why.

Research by Dr. Eryn Newman of The Australian National University (ANU) has found that when people listen to recordings of a scientist presenting their work, the quality of audio had a significant impact on whether people believed what they were hearing, regardless of who the researcher was or what they were talking about.

Dr. Newman, of the ANU Research School of Psychology, said the results showed when it comes to communicating , style can triumph over substance.

"When people are assessing the credibility of information, most of the people are making a judgement based on how something feels," Dr. Newman said.

"Our results showed that when the was poor, the thought the researcher wasn't as intelligent, they didn't like them as much and found their research less important."

The study used experiments where people viewed of scientists speaking at conferences. One group of participants heard the recordings in clear high-quality audio, while the other group heard the same recordings with poor-quality audio.

Participants were then asked to evaluate the researchers and their work. Those who listened to the poorer quality audio consistently evaluated the scientists as less intelligent and their research as less important.

In a second experiment, researchers upped the ante and conducted the same experiment using renowned scientists discussing their work on the well-known US Science Friday radio program. This time the recordings included audio of the scientists being introduced with their qualifications and institutional affiliations.

"It made no difference," she said.

"As soon as we reduced the audio quality, all of a sudden the scientists and their research lost credibility."

As with the first experiments, participants thought the research was worse, the were less competent and they also reported finding their work less interesting.

Dr. Newman said in a time when genuine science is struggling to be heard above fake news and alternate facts, researchers need to consider not only the content of their messages, but features of the delivery.

"Another recent study showed false information travels six times faster than real information on Twitter," she said.

"Our results show that it's not just about who you are and what you are saying, it's about how your is presented."

A research paper for the study has been published in the journal Science Communications.

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TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2018
"most of the time people are making a judgement based on how something feels,"

-Which is why of course humans are intrinsically anti-science. Objectivity is against our nature.

The human animal is incompatible with civilization. All of history and technology are efforts to force us to comply.

Domestication does have it's limits however. Ultimately we need to begin replacing the nasty bits altogether with more appropriate widgets we design from scratch.

You know, intelligent design. The human form of evolution.

Horses worked pretty well but there is a reason why people now drive cars instead. We replaced horses as soon as we were able.

Science wastes as much time correcting human ignorance as it does exploring new territory. Imagine the progress once we automate this process.
julianpenrod
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 12, 2018
The liars in "science" will use any excuse to "explain away" the fact that many, many are realizing what a fraud "science" is.
The claim here is that hearing assertions in a garbled, static filled or badly transmitted form will lead them not to believe what is said.
But almost nothing is badly transmitted, anymore!
Cable has almost no problems with transmission. Material delivered through computer is almost completely of high quality. And, face it, if something is read in a book, how is transmission necessarily affected then?
When you play something deliberately and artificially garbled and ask people if they trust the statements, they could say they don't simply out of disgust or because they didn't really hear what was said and won't say they believe something if they don't know what was said. This seems all a fraud.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (3) Apr 12, 2018
What makes someone reject information?

Ego.
If you feel you're - by definition of being you and nothing else - more right than others then you'll believe what makes you feel good and reject what doesn't. Information content then doesn't come into it at all. The study seems to get to the same conclusion.

Separating fact from fiction in the age of alternate facts is becoming increasingly difficult

No it ain't. Look for soft, non-checkable qualifiers. If news contain adjectives ("great", "amazing", "sad", ....) instead of easily verifiable statements then you've got fake news.

As for the above study: Maybe we should teach people that it's OK not to judge when the subject matter is over their heads? "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer. (It's even a laudable answer when you take it as a starting point to educate yourself)
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2018
Incompatible with civilization...
The liars in "science" will use any excuse to "explain away" the fact that many, many are realizing what a fraud "science" is.
The claim here is that hearing assertions in a garbled, static filled or badly transmitted form will lead them not to believe what is said
... and there is no more glaring example of our incompatibility, than faith... the blind rejection of evidence... the preference for WHAT WE WANT to be true, rather than WHAT IS true.

The problem with our politics, economics, and legal systems is that humans will always want more than they need, and they concoct institutions like religion that promise to give it to them.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2018
When you play something deliberately and artificially garbled and ask people if they trust the statements, they could say they don't simply out of disgust or because they didn't really hear what was said and won't say they believe something if they don't know what was said. This seems all a fraud
-and yet Julian is perfectly comfortable with the concept of the trinity, the ritual cannibalism of the Eucharist, or the idea that a god of infinite mercy would condemn us to eternal torture just because we think he's too absurd a concept to believe in.

Julian resents the idea that there are humans that can describe the universe in terms that are beyond his comprehension. That's the job of the preacher, not the scientist, complains julian.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2018
"Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God." Martin Luther

"5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." Jas1
rrwillsj
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2018
otto & a_p, I agree with both your statements. However, as a qualifier. It is my opinion that your perspectives of the research results described in this article. Are based on different life experiences than the researchers of this study.

It is the complex mish-mash of social interactions between hundreds of millions of people that resists simple descriptions.

For example, while not specifically covered in this report. With a little tweaking it could be used as an analysis of advertising campaigns.

Or, how to operate a pyramid scheme, investment scam or product endorsement campaign relying on testimonials.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 13, 2018
otto & a_p, I agree with both your statements. However
Sorry willis I don't value the opinions of someone who enjoys making up info and also who starts most every post of his in the first person.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2018
Every time I look into a mirror? I smile and point at my reflection and insist "You're still Number One in my book!"

So otto, I guess that is something else you are accidentally correct about...

I AM THE First Person.

Awesome!!

You? You are the crotchety old codger we all love to hate...

What's the opposite of awesome?

TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 13, 2018
The point is, we're here to share info, not to display our self-infatuation.

Nobody gives a shit about what 'you' think.
I AM THE First Person
-pretty embarrassing really.

This is why you think 'you' can make up facts and get away with it. Because you're awesome aren't you?

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