Archives for posts with tag: beliefs

Nicholas D. Kristof writes for the New York Times. In an article entitled “Media should try to fight, not spread, fear and lies,” he had an interesting observation about fake news and biased reporting.

Often information is passed on by the media and everyday people without verifying its truthfulness. Fact checking can be time consuming and tedious but Kristof adds an interesting angle on the way we process information.

According to this journalist, social psychology experiments have found that when people are presented with factual corrections that contradict their beliefs, they may cling to mistaken beliefs more strongly than ever. This is called the “backfire effect.” I had never heard this term before so I decided to check it out.

In 2006, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler at The University of Michigan and Georgia State University created fake newspaper articles about polarizing political issues. The articles were written in a way which would confirm a widespread misconception about certain ideas in American politics. As soon as a person read a fake article, researchers then handed over a true article which corrected the first.

They repeated the experiment with several “hot button” issues like stem cell research and tax reform. Again they found corrections tended to increase the strength of the participants’ misconceptions. This was consistent even when people on opposing sides of the issue read the same articles and then the same corrections. When new evidence was interpreted as threatening to their beliefs, the corrections backfired. Instead of changing what people believed, their beliefs were strengthened.

This is nothing new. Hundreds of years ago Francis Bacon (1561-1626) said, “The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusion may remain inviolate.”

Psychologist Thomas Gilovich, Professor of Psychology at Cornell University concludes, “When examining evidence relevant to a given belief, people are inclined to see what they expect to see, and conclude what they expect to conclude.”

I do not intend to suggest that a person should be open to just anything. I am not suggesting that we discard our understanding or position on any issue. I believe there are some absolutes in life. All things are not negotiable. Strong convictions and firm beliefs are desirable but we need to be open to the possibility that there is a different perspective that we have not yet seen. We could be mistaken. Our opinions (beliefs) might be subject to correction. There could be more than one way to look at a particular topic.  

God, help us to be open to truth!

Jamie Jenkins

The second most important day of my life was December 28, 1968.* That was the day Lena and I exchanged wedding vows. Yesterday we celebrated 48 years of marriage.  She is a gift from God to me for which I am most grateful.

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It has been over 50 years since Lena and I first met. We have loved each other for more than a half century. WOW! It is amazing how love has grown over those years. We have very different personalities and talents but have learned to appreciate and complement each other. And we are still learning. With God’s help we have grown together and that process is ongoing.

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God has been so good to us since the day we pledged our lives together in that little church on Stone Street in Mobile, Alabama. “For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish till death us do part.” We have had our struggles and trials but our lives have been blessed since we loaded everything we had into that 1965 Chevrolet Impala and headed to New York.

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Lena and I have three adult children. In spite of the struggles of the early years of marriage and parenting, they have grown to be wonderful adults. Each of them has wisely chosen life partners. They and our two grandchildren are priceless treasures.

Lena has sacrificed a lot as she has accompanied me on our journey from Alabama to New York, Tennessee, and Georgia. She has been my chief critic and most devoted helper and cheerleader through the nine times we have moved since our wedding day.  She shares my love for travel and has been my companion as we have explored more of this world than I ever imagined. We have more plans to “see the world” near and far as long as our health and resources last.

My spouse for two-thirds of my life, the mother of our three children and grandmother of our two grandchildren, is one of the most generous persons I know. She loves people and thrives on caring for others. She is a happy person who laughs a lot and loves to dance. She is a talented woman whose creativity is displayed in many ways. As a Master Gardener her flower garden is one of the most visible evidences of her gifts.

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The love of my life is a spiritual person who believes in a loving God and understands that what a person believes should inform and impact how they live and treat others.

She is one of the most authentic persons I know.

I am grateful to God and to Lena for the 48 years of marriage and I look forward to sharing many more years and adventures together, God willing.

Jamie Jenkins

*The most important day of my life??