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Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber....

Posted by on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:02 PM
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Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber

| Wed Mar. 5, 2014 3:00 AM GMT

On Monday, I reported on the latest study to take a bite out of the idea of human rationality. In a paper just published in Pediatrics, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth and his colleagues showed that presenting people with information confirming the safety of vaccines triggered a "backfire effect," in which people who already distrusted vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate their kids.

Unfortunately, this is hardly the only example of such a frustrating response being documented by researchers. Nyhan and his co-author Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter have captured several others, as have other researchers. Here are some examples:

1. Tax Cuts Increase Revenue? In a 2010 study, Nyhan and Reifler asked people to read a fake newspaper article containing a real quotation of George W. Bush, in which the former president asserted that his tax cuts "helped increase revenues to the Treasury." In some versions of the article, this false claim was then debunked by economic evidence: A correction appended to the end of the article stated that in fact, the Bush tax cuts "were followed by an unprecedented three-year decline in nominal tax revenues, from $2 trillion in 2000 to $1.8 trillion in 2003." The study found that conservatives who read the correction were twice as likely to believe Bush's claim was true as were conservatives who did not read the correction.

2. Death Panels! Another notorious political falsehood is Sarah Palin's claim that Obamacare would create "death panels." To test whether they could undo the damage caused by this highly influential morsel of misinformation, Nyhan and his colleagues had study subjects read an article about the "death panels" claim, which in some cases ended with a factual correction explaining that "nonpartisan health care experts have concluded that Palin is wrong." Among survey respondents who were very pro-Palin and who had a high level of political knowledge, the correction actually made them more likely to wrongly embrace the false "death panels" theory.

3. Obama is a Muslim! And if that's still not enough, yet another Nyhan and Reifler studyexamined the persistence of the "President Obama is a Muslim" myth. In this case, respondents watched a video of President Obama denying that he is a Muslim or even stating affirmatively, "I am a Christian." Once again, the correction—uttered in this case by the president himself—often backfired in the study, making belief in the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim worse among certain study participants. What's more, the backfire effect was particularly notable when the researchers administering the study were white. When they were non-white, subjects were more willing to change their minds, an effect the researchers explained by noting that "social desirability concerns may affect how respondents behave when asked about sensitive topics." In other words, in the company of someone from a different race than their own, people tend to shift their responses based upon what they think that person's worldview might be.

4. The Alleged Iraq-Al Qaeda Link. In a 2009 study, Monica Prasad of Northwestern University and her colleagues directly challenged Republican partisans about their false belief that Iraq and Al Qaeda collaborated in the 9/11 attacks, a common charge during the Bush years. The so-called challenge interviews included citing the findings of the 9/11 Commission and even a statement by George W. Bush, asserting that his administration had "never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaeda." Despite these facts, only one out of 49 partisans changed his or her mind after the factual correction. Forty-one of the partisans "deflected" the information in a variety of ways, and 7 actually denied holding the belief in the first place (although they clearly had).

5. Global Warming. On the climate issue, there does not appear to be any study that clearly documents a backfire effect. However, in a 2011 study, researchers at American University and Ohio State found a closely related "boomerang effect." In the experiment, research subjects from upstate New York read news articles about how climate change might increase the spread of West Nile Virus, which were accompanied by the pictures of the faces of farmers who might be affected. But in one case, the people were said to be farmers in upstate New York (in other words, victims who were quite socially similar to the research subjects); in the other, they were described as farmers from either Georgia or from France (much more distant victims). The intent of the article was to raise concern about the health consequences of climate change, but when Republicans read the article about the more distant farmers, their support for action on climate change decreased, a pattern that was stronger as their Republican partisanship increased. (When Republicans read about the proximate, New York farmers, there was no boomerang effect, but they did not become more supportive of climate action either.)

Together, all of these studies support the theory of "motivated reasoning": The idea that our prior beliefs, commitments, and emotions drive our responses to new information, such that when we are faced with facts that deeply challenge these commitments, we fight back against them to defend our identities. So next time you feel the urge to argue back against some idiot on the Internet...pause, take a deep breath, and realize not only that arguing might not do any good, but that in fact, it might very well backfire.

by on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:02 PM
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pookietooth
by Member on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:19 PM
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There is a higher rate of elderly and sick (disabled) people dying in the care of doctors in Canada than in the us, and people are discovering it's to save money for the National Health Care system. Not exactly "death panels," but there is a passive rationing of medical care there. Not that it doesn't happen here in our for profit system, though.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM
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Together, all of these studies support the theory of "motivated reasoning": The idea that our prior beliefs, commitments, and emotions drive our responses to new information, such that when we are faced with facts that deeply challenge these commitments, we fight back against them to defend our identities. So next time you feel the urge to argue back against some idiot on the Internet...pause, take a deep breath, and realize not only that arguing might not do any good, but that in fact, it might very well backfire.
jessilin0113
by Platinum Member on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:27 PM
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That's actually incredibly infuriating.  My ex mother in law is like this, it makes me insane. 

jessilin0113
by Platinum Member on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:29 PM
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There HAS to be rationing.  Health care is a finite resource, and I don't see the point in keeping people alive who have no quality of life, when that care can be better allocated elsewhere.  I wish people were able to accept death easier (I've been talking to my 97 year old grandma too much, lol.  She has strong opinions about this.  :P)

Quoting pookietooth:

There is a higher rate of elderly and sick (disabled) people dying in the care of doctors in Canada than in the us, and people are discovering it's to save money for the National Health Care system. Not exactly "death panels," but there is a passive rationing of medical care there. Not that it doesn't happen here in our for profit system, though.


RandRMomma
by Maya on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:33 PM
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I know people that think like this. It's infuriating and sad. I do not understand how people can allow themselves to be this dumb.
canadianmom1974
by Gold Member on Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:58 PM
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Source? Proof? Facts?

Quoting pookietooth:

There is a higher rate of elderly and sick (disabled) people dying in the care of doctors in Canada than in the us, and people are discovering it's to save money for the National Health Care system. Not exactly "death panels," but there is a passive rationing of medical care there. Not that it doesn't happen here in our for profit system, though.

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motha2daDuchess
by Bruja on Mar. 6, 2014 at 12:43 AM
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the morons I know that post and talk about this crap like it is truth just makes me laugh. I just can't bellieve that this is what they decide sounds reasonable

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Mar. 6, 2014 at 4:36 AM
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Sometimes stupidity= identity. and people take what they can get these days.
Carpy
by Ruby Member on Mar. 6, 2014 at 6:03 AM
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I only read the study for the first "fact".  The "study" does not give me much in the way of actual facts but rather just their claim that they are stating a fact.


Do Tax Cuts Increase Government Revenue?

Turn on the television or radio, pick up a newspaper or magazine, and you’re likely to find something on the subject of taxes. This debate is especially prominent as it relates to the federal deficit and debt. On one side is the argument that if you cut taxes government revenue will fall and the debt will expand. Others contend that cutting taxes stimulates the economy which, in turn, leads to an increase in government revenue. Who is correct? To answer this, let’s journey back to 1913, the year the modern tax code was enacted.

1913

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified, giving the Federal government the authority to levy an income tax on individuals and businesses. Its design was “progressive” in that the tax rate rises as income rises. This assures that those earning a higher wage will pay a higher percentage. From 1913 to 1915, the highest marginal tax bracket was only 7.0%. This top rate reached 94% in 1945, the final year of WWII.

Framing Today’s Debate

The real question today is: “How do changes in income tax rates affect federal receipts?” Clearly there are deductions and credits which also influence the result. But in the final analysis, the percentage that taxpayers pay is the key statistic.

The following graph clearly reveals the answer. The red line represents the top marginal tax bracket while the blue line shows the total amount of Federal government revenue each year. There are two salient points here. First, as the graph illustrates, as tax rates declined, government revenue increased. Second, there is a strong negative correlation between the two. To review, correlation measures the relationship between two sets of data. The scale ranges from negative one to positive one. A correlation of positive one indicates that the two data sets move in concert with each other. A correlation of negative one indicates that as one set of data moves up, or down, the other moves in the opposite direction. Using the data from 1913 through the end of 2011, the correlation between the maximum marginal income tax bracket and total Federal receipts is a negative 0.50. In simple terms, when taxes are cut, Federal revenue has a very strong tendency to rise! And when taxes are raised, government revenue has a strong tendency to fall.

The next time you find yourself engaged in this debate and someone tells you that you that taxes must be raised to pay down the debt, you can refer them to this article. In conclusion, as JFK, Reagan, and Goerge W. Bush understood, reducing taxes has a stimulative effect on economic activity which leads to an increase in government reciepts. You can’t argue with history!

Thanks for reading!

Carpy
by Ruby Member on Mar. 6, 2014 at 6:12 AM


A very distinct pattern has been observable throughout American economic history: When tax rates are reduced, the economy's growth rate rises, government tax revenues increase, and living standards improve across all of society. Conversely, periods of higher tax rates are associated with sub-par economic performance and stagnant tax revenues. Veronique de Rugy of the Cato Institute explains:

“Changes in marginal income tax rates cause individuals and businesses to change their behavior. As tax rates rise, taxpayers reduce taxable income by working less, retiring earlier, scaling back plans to start or expand businesses, moving activities to the underground economy, restructuring companies, and spending more time and money on accountants to minimize taxes. Tax rate cuts reduce such distortions and cause the tax base to expand as tax avoidance falls and the economy grows.”

An examination of the four major instances of U.S. tax-rate reductions illustrates the point.

(1) The Tax Cuts of the 1920s

When the federal income tax was enacted in 1913, the top rate was just 7 percent. In 1917 and 1918, tax rates were increased dramatically at all income levels; by the end of World War I, the top rate stood at 77 percent. America's real Gross National Product (GNP) fell by 16 percent between 1919 and 1921.

Then, behind the leadership of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon -- who served in both the Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge administrations -- tax rates were cut sharply under the Revenue Acts of 1921, 1924, and 1926. Mellon explained his rationale:

"The history of taxation shows that taxes which are inherently excessive are not paid. The high rates inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw his capital from productive business and invest it in tax-exempt securities or to find other lawful methods of avoiding the realization of taxable income. The result is that the sources of taxation are drying up; wealth is failing to carry its share of the tax burden; and capital is being diverted into channels which yield neither revenue to the Government nor profit to the people."

As a result of the Mellon tax cuts, federal government revenues derived from personal income taxes rose from $719 million in 1921 to $1.164 billion in 1928, an increase of more than 61 percent. Between 1922 and 1929, America's real GNP grew at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 3.2 percent.

Notably, as tax rates were reduced, the share of the tax burden paid by the rich (those earning $50,000 or more in those days) rose from 44.2 percent in 1921 to 78.4 percent in 1928. Moreover, taxes paid by people earning in excess of $100,000 soared from roughly $300 million to $700 million per year.

(2) The Kennedy Tax Cuts

After Herbert Hoover had dramatically increased tax rates in the early 1930s, and Franklin Roosevelt had pushed marginal tax rates to more than 90 percent, President John F. Kennedy recognized that high taxes were hindering the U.S. economy. To remedy the situation, he proposed across-the-board tax-rate reductions; the top tax rate, for example, was slashed from 91 percent to 70 percent. Said Kennedy:

"Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.... In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now."

As a result of Kennedy's tax cuts, the federal government's tax revenues climbed from $94 billion in 1961 to $153 billion in 1968, an increase of 62 percent (33 percent after adjusting for inflation).

Moreover, in a manner similar to what had occurred in the 1920s, the share of the income-tax burden borne by the rich increased following the Kennedy tax cuts. Tax collections from those earning more than $50,000 per year climbed by 57 percent between 1963 and 1966, while tax collections from those earning below $50,000 rose by just 11 percent. Consequently, high earners saw their portion of the income-tax burden climb from 11.6 percent to 15.1 percent.

(3) The Reagan Tax Cuts

After the inflation of the 1970s had pushed millions of Americans into higher tax brackets (even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising), President Ronald Reagan took office and promptly proposed sweeping tax-rate reductions. The cornerstone of his economic policy was a 25-percent across-the-board tax cut, enacted in 1981. According to then-U.S. Representative Jack Kemp (R-NY), one of the chief architects of the Reagan plan:

"At some point, additional taxes so discourage the activity being taxed, such as working or investing, that they yield less revenue rather than more. There are, after all, two rates that yield the same amount of revenue: high tax rates on low production, or low rates on high production." 

As a result of the Reagan tax cuts, total federal government revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s. The average annual growth rate of America's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1983 to 1989 was 3.8 percent per year, compared with 2.8 percent from 1974 to 1981. By the end of the Reagan years, the American economy was almost one-third larger than it had been when they began. From 1981 through 1989, the U.S. economy produced 17 million new jobs, or roughly 2 million new jobs each year.

Also, the share of income taxes paid by the top 10 percent of earners jumped significantly, climbing from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. The top 1 percent of earners saw their share of the income tax bill climb even more dramatically, from 17.6 percent in 1981 to 27.5 percent in 1988.

(4) The Bush Tax Cuts

In 2001 the George W. Bush administration passed income-tax cuts that reduced individual tax rates by roughly 7.4 percent on the low end of the income spectrum, and by 9.3 percent on the high end. Two years later, capital gains tax rates were reduced from 20 percent and 10 percent (depending on income) to 15 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Cumulatively, these cuts led to a period of economic prosperity that lasted until the housing crisis of 2008. A few statistics are worthy of notice:

  • America's GDP had grown at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent during the six quarters preceding the 2003 tax cuts; in the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1 percent.
  • The S&P 500 had dropped 18 percent during the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts, but it increased by 32 percent during the six quarters following the cuts.
  • The economy had lost 267,000 jobs during the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. During the six quarters after the cuts, it added 307,000 jobs. And during the seven quarters thereafter, another 5 million jobs were created.
  • After the capital gains tax reduction of 2003, capital gains revenues to the government more than doubled, to $103 billion. Previous capital gains tax cuts had shown similar results. By encouraging investment, lower capital gains taxes increase funding for the technologies, businesses, ideas, and projects that make workers and the economy more productive. Such investment is vital for long-term economic growth.

The salutary effect that lower tax rates have on an economy can be seen not only at the federal level, but also at the state level. As of May 2012, seven states had no personal income taxes (PIT) — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Two states taxed only income on interest and dividends — New Hampshire and Tennessee. From 2000 to 2009, the average state and local revenue growth of these nine states was 81.53%. By contrast, average revenue growth in the nine states with the highest PIT rates — Ohio, Maine, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Hawaii and New York — was 44.88%.

Similarly, the nine states with no PIT collectively experienced 58.54% growth in their gross state product from 2001 to 2010; the corresponding figure for the nine states with the highest PIT rates was 42.06%.


Adapted from "
The Historical Lessons of Lower Tax Rates,"

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