Brian Resnick in Vox:
Dan Kahan is a professor of law and psychology at Yale whose research over the years has taught us something critically important about political debate today.
It’s this: While we would like to believe we can persuade people on the other side of a political debate with evidence, his studies show the other side is likely to become even more deeply entrenched in its view in the face of more information. His findings are a blow to the great underlying assumption of democracy: that an informed public is the key for a government that works.
The phenomenon is called “politically motivated reasoning,” and it finds people use their minds to protect the groups to which they belong from grappling with uncomfortable truths. The motivation to conform is stronger than the motivation to be right.
That’s why his latest research finding “is totally unexpected,” he says. There’s an antidote to politically motivated reasoning, it turns out. And it’s wonderfully simple: curiosity.