• 16 JUL 09
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    #1096: ICNIRP – Staying comfortable with what they know

    Ever wonder why seemingly intelligent individuals who are members of organizations such as ICNIRP, steadfastly stick to the thermal paradigm rejecting all evidence that questions that viewpoint? Besides the deep seated financial/industry/military conflicts of interest that have dominated EMF/EMR standard setting since the 1950s, the following research suggests unbiased scientific objectivity can be a human fallacy. This should be further reason why the precautionary principle is so important to protect the public interest in technological controversies….

    Don

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    From World Science:

    People only sometimes seek out opposing views, study finds

    http://www.world-science.net/othernews/090702_opinion.htm

    July 3, 2009
    Courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
    American Psychological Association
    and World Science staff

    Peo­ple tend to avoid in­forma­t­ion they don’t agree with—but cer­tain fac­tors can prompt them to seek out, or at least con­sid­er, oth­er points of view, new re­search has found.

    The anal­y­sis, re­ported this month in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Bul­le­tin, in­clud­ed da­ta from 91 stud­ies in­volv­ing nearly 8,000 par­ti­ci­pants. The au­thors said it set­tles a long­stand­ing de­bate over wheth­er peo­ple ac­tively avoid in­forma­t­ion that con­tra­dicts what they think, or wheth­er they’re simply ex­posed more of­ten to ide­as that con­form to their own be­cause they tend to be sur­rounded by like-mind­ed peo­ple.

    “We wanted to see ex­actly across the board to what ex­tent peo­ple are will­ing to seek out the truth ver­sus just stay com­fort­a­ble with what they know,” said Un­ivers­ity of Il­li­nois psy­chol­o­gist Do­lo­res Al­bar­racín, who led the study with Un­ivers­ity of Flor­i­da re­searcher Wil­liam Hart.

    The stud­ies they re­viewed gen­er­ally asked par­ti­ci­pants about their views on a giv­en top­ic and then al­lowed them to choose wheth­er they wanted to view or read in­forma­t­ion sup­port­ing their own or an op­pos­ing point of view.

    The re­search­ers found that peo­ple are on av­er­age about twice as likely to se­lect in­forma­t­ion that sup­ports their own point of view as to con­sid­er an op­pos­ing idea. Some, more closed-minded peo­ple are even more re­luc­tant to ex­pose them­selves to dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives, Al­bar­racín said.

    The re­search­ers al­so found, not sur­pris­ing­ly, that peo­ple are more re­sist­ant to new points of view when their own ide­as are as­so­ci­at­ed with po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious or eth­i­cal val­ues.

    “If you are really com­mit­ted to your own at­ti­tude – for ex­am­ple, if you are a very com­mit­ted Dem­o­crat – you are more likely to seek con­gen­ial in­forma­t­ion,” Al­bar­racín said. “If the is­sues con­cern mor­al val­ues or pol­i­tics, about 70 per­cent of the time you will choose con­gen­ial in­forma­t­ion, ver­sus about 60 per­cent of the time if the is­sues are not re­lat­ed to val­ues.”

    Per­haps more sur­pris­ing­ly, peo­ple who have lit­tle con­fi­dence in their own be­liefs are less likely to ex­pose them­selves to con­tra­ry views than peo­ple who are very con­fi­dent in their own ide­as, Al­bar­racín said.

    Cer­tain fac­tors can al­so in­duce peo­ple to seek out op­pos­ing points of view, she said. Those who may have to pub­licly de­fend their ide­as, such as politi­cians, for ex­am­ple, are more mo­ti­vat­ed to learn about the views of those who op­pose them. In the pro­cess, she said, they some­times find that their own ide­as evolve.

    Peo­ple are al­so more likely to ex­pose them­selves to op­pos­ing ide­as when it is use­ful to them in some way, Al­bar­racín said.

    “If you’re go­ing to buy a house and you really like the house, you’re still go­ing to have it in­spect­ed,” she said. Sim­i­lar­ly, no mat­ter how much you like your sur­geon, you may seek out a sec­ond opin­ion be­fore schedul­ing a ma­jor opera­t­ion, she said.

    “For the most part it seems that peo­ple tend to stay with their own be­liefs and at­ti­tudes be­cause chang­ing those might pre­vent them from liv­ing the lives they’re liv­ing,” Al­bar­racín said. “But it’s good news that one out of three times, or close to that, they are will­ing to seek out the oth­er side.”

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