Even when presented with facts, supported by evidence, many choose not to believe them

October 9, 2018, Indiana University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In an era of fact-checking and "alternative facts," many people simply choose not to believe research findings and other established facts, according to a new paper co-authored by a professor at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

"A growing body of evidence suggests that even when individuals are aware of supported by a vast majority of studies, they often choose not to believe them," wrote Ernest O'Boyle, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, and two co-authors in the Journal of Management.

"There are reasons for growing alarm about the disbelief of across a wide range of professional domains because it seems to reflect a much broader drop in the credibility of academics and scientists."

In an editorial commentary, O'Boyle and two professors at the University of Iowa—Sara Rynes and Amy Colbert—explain why people often don't believe research findings.

Some public distrust comes from a rapid rise in studies suggesting that current research findings aren't as robust as previously thought. Reasons range from innocent causes, such as undetected analytical errors, to occasional . But the authors also point to "well-funded, concerted efforts to discredit solid scientific research for self-interested political, ideological or economic ends."

This trend affects American business and the workplace because managers are less likely to look to for advice or apply empirically validated best practices. For example, they may fail to embrace the view that intelligence is the single best predictor of job performance, which has been widely proven through research.

"Research suggesting the benefits of diversifying the labor force or promoting women or minorities into leadership positions is likely to threaten the vested interests of members of currently overrepresented groups while raising the hopes and aspirations of others," they said. "Many people are also likely to use motivated reasoning when evaluating research-based claims about the causes and consequences of pay inequity."

To address these challenges, O'Boyle and his colleagues said business researchers should broaden the range of research to focus on bigger, more important problems and consider more emphasis on needs of customers, employees, local communities, the environment and society as a whole. They need to find opportunities to co-create research with practitioners, beyond their simply providing data and other information.

They also need to improve how they report and communicate about their research.

"To outsiders, the current publishing model of academic research is likely to appear strange, counterintuitive and wasteful," they said. "Experts have long recommended publishing findings in outlets that are more accessible.

"Many practitioners, students and members of the general population now get much of their information from sources that were barely in use little more than a decade ago, such as blogs, online videos and various forms of social media. The best opportunities to ... get research evidence to the public may lie in these alternative forums."

These forums may include TED talks, online forums and massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. O'Boyle and his co-authors also suggest that scholars need to better anticipate and address resistance to specific findings in their research.

"A lot of what we're doing to bridge the academic-practice gap, like publishing in more accessible outlets and doing more executive training, doesn't work unless we are able to overcome some of these natural barriers to persuasion," O'Boyle said.

Explore further: Study identifies ways to share key data between researchers, business practitioners

More information: Sara L. Rynes et al, When the "Best Available Evidence" Doesn't Win: How Doubts About Science and Scientists Threaten the Future of Evidence-Based Management, Journal of Management (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0149206318796934

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22 comments

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julianpenrod
1.2 / 5 (13) Oct 09, 2018
What to make, then, of those who insist that, if a woman says she was sexually assaulted, it must be true? What of those who believe the engineered photos of Trump rally venues before anyone arrived, intended to convince them no one attends Trump rallies? What to make of those who insist Trump stopped all immigration from Muslim countries when, in fact, he banned visitors from only a third of all Muslim countries and only for a couple of months? These also all believe the propaganda that what is called "climate change" is not caused by chemtrails. They accept "evolution" and "relativity" and the claims that all vaccines are necessarily safe.
jonesdave
3.6 / 5 (13) Oct 09, 2018
Based on the above post, I would say it is due to political leanings, and a lack of education.
Eikka
4.5 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2018
Some public distrust comes from a rapid rise in studies suggesting that current research findings aren't as robust as previously thought.


https://en.wikipe...illusion

Because scientific knowledge is growing by a factor of ten every 50 years, this means that half of what scientists may have known about a particular subject will be wrong or obsolete in 45 years.


With scientific knowledge, it's good to keep a long view instead of jumping onto popular paradigms. Especially on controversial topics.
aksdad
not rated yet Oct 09, 2018
Another proof for the old adage "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still".
ForFreeMinds
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2018
The fact of cognitive dissonance has been known for a long time. Certainly biased and doctored research doesn't help either, as it gives people an excuse to not believe research.

Rather than the suggested fixes, seems to me they should research more why people don't believe research and facts.
Doug_Nightmare
not rated yet Oct 09, 2018
See eristic.
V4Vendicar
5 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2018
Shut up Moron. You have nothing of value to say.

"What to make, then, of those who insist that, if a woman says she was sexually assaulted, it must be true?" - Julean FuckTard
Benni
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2018
Everybody already has their own facts
Da Schneib
4 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2018
The primary reason for this is because people are brought up to "beLIEve in" the stone age Babble by drunken neolithic sheep herders about the super magic daddy in the sky when we know there's no super magic daddy there because we can see it.
V4Vendicar
not rated yet Oct 09, 2018
The people denying reality are primarily Republican scumbags of the Trump supporting variety.

They are generally old, often senile, and will soon be dead.

The problem is, they have bee such poor parents that their children are maleducated and intellectually inferior to earlier generations.

idjyit
not rated yet Oct 09, 2018
We as humans have the fundamental and unalienable right to judge others,
and come to and act on, unrequited emotionally driven illogical conclusions !!!
... so they riot to get the attention they think they deserve ... bloody morons.

The 2 dimensional written word of the internet just makes it worse.

Wanna be academics and intellectuals make it much worse, because they are "educated" morons.
Da Schneib
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2018
Feel free to come to illogical conclusions. You have every right to be as stupid as you like.

You have a right to jump out of a 10th story window.

You do not have a right not to go "splat" when you hit the sidewalk.

Don't expect reality to conform to whatever "rights" you think you have. Reality doesn't respect "rights."
idjyit
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2018
@V4Vendicar

If I was to say "Hillary Clinton was using witchcraft and crawling around in my head telling me to hate Donald Trump and vote for her" , how many people would honestly evaluate that statement and think back to the election and remember Hillary crawling around in their heads ?

Get real most would say , you're just crazy , and I'd say "I don't even live in the USA"

I didn't really have a lot of time for Trump at the beginning of your election, but I'm telling you he never even attempted to rob me of my free will.

Hillary and her friends are creating hatred and chaos in the USA and no one says anything about it.

Donald Trump talks to his demographic and the media goes for his throat.

I doubt anyone in the USA has actually evaluated where their hatred is coming from, or if it's even justified.
dorsalmo
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
It would also help if people would stop coming out with studies of questionable value, such as the medical "findings" that people are more likely to have if they meet certain seemingly arbitrary criteria. There are so many unknown variables in such "studies" that the researchers can't help but appear to have just wasted some university's money.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
even when individuals are aware of research findings supported by a vast majority of studies, they often choose not to believe them

The problem, I feel, lies in the 'believe'

The major problem is that education systems (and a general attitude of laziness and avoidance of anything that doesn't bring immediate gratification) have lead to a populace that doesn't have the mental capacity to actually *understand* the facts they are presented with. Once you understand something - and van argue it cogently yourself - there is no longer the need to believe.

The ability to reflect on presented facts (instead of just knee-jerking some opinion based on a - often misunderstood - soundbite) and connect them to other facts and basic knowledge has been lost in a large part of the population...or maybe it was never allowed/encouraged to develop.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
"well-funded, concerted efforts to discredit solid scientific research for self-interested political, ideological or economic ends."

I find it baffling that the tripe these sources put out is believed by anyone. It's just so blindingly obvious most of the time, one has to be willfully obtuse to take it at face value.

This trend affects American business and the workplace because managers are less likely to look to academic research for advice or apply empirically validated best practices.

One thing that is often forgotten: The toughness of the degree you have to earn to become a 'manager' is way, way, waaaaay at the bottom of the pile.

Every STEM student could pass the test needed to earn a business degree.
Almost no holder of a business degree could pass any university level test in a STEM field.

So why do we even expect managers to be able to apply scientific findings?
Just because they earn the most money doesn't mean they're the smartest people.
Da Schneib
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2018
This is about knowledge and reality. The philosophers have made such a mess of this over the last 50 years that we now have people educated at universities who don't know what knowledge and reality are, can't do algebra, and don't understand logic. These people become lawyers and politicians. And managers.
snoosebaum
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
Da Schneib
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2018
@snooze fails to note that you can't get stuff like that published in a reputable physics journal.
TrollBane
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
Benni: "Everybody already has their own facts."
That is how Benni (and those like him) seek to make their unreason seem more 'normal' than it actually is.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Oct 10, 2018
You can try reporting the three redundant posts as duplicates if you like, @TrollBane. It's worked for me in the past.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2018
Benni: "Everybody already has their own facts."
That is how Benni (and those like him) seek to make their unreason seem more 'normal' than it actually is.
The real problem is that everyone does *not* have "their own facts."

The sidewalk after jumping from the tenth story window demonstrates this unmistakably.

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