By Julia Belluz and Brian Resnick
Donald Trump made an “unusual degree” of blatantly false and misleading statements for a presidential candidate. And he won. Since then, we’ve seen the continuation of the pattern: On November 10, a day after the election, he insisted, with no credible evidence, that election protesters were paid actors. On Sunday, he described elements of his first 100 days’ plan — the deportation of 3 million “illegal immigrant criminals” — that are, as Vox’s Dara Lind has reported, based on faulty statistics.
This track record doesn’t portend an era of truthfulness at the Trump White House. And many are questioning if facts are under genuine assault. NPR’s senior VP of news, Michael Oreskes, recently reminded listeners, “Our first principle is that facts exist and that they matter.”
But Trump was actually just trading on something psychologists and political scientists have known for years: that people don’t necessarily make decisions based on facts. Instead, we are often guided by our emotions and deeply held biases. Humans are also very adept at ignoring facts so that we can continue to see the world in a way that conforms to our preconceived notions. And simply stating factual information that contradicts those deeply held beliefs is often not enough to combat the spread of misinformation.
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