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Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds

The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.

I n 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They

were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty- ve pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.
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