How NOT to conduct honest research.
Sociologists representing four major research institutions have published a study in the journal Sociological Inquiry examining how we support our false beliefs. They examined the false belief of many voters during the 2004 general election that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the Saudi/Al Queda attacks on September 11, 2001.
These researchers concluded that the false beliefs were not caused by lies told repeatedly by the Bush Administration, the New York Times, WaPo, FoxNews and assorted other mainstream media in print, broadcast, cable and radio, but reflected a mere quirk of the individuals’ own personal need to justify a war that was already being waged. Is this yet another example of dishonest publicly funded research, bought by historical revisionists instead of Big Pharma this time?
The researchers named their study “There Must Be a Reason: Osama, Saddam and Inferred Justification,” and claim that their findings offer a serious challenge to democracy. The inference from that claim being, of course, that regular people are just too damned stupid and dishonest with themselves to justify letting them vote. Wow.
While it is a trivial observation that people tend to believe what they want to believe, and seek out information sources that support and/or confirm their already-held beliefs, I am certainly not convinced that Ph.D. sociologists should have so pointedly ignored the facts in this particular case of “What’s Wrong With WingNuts?” It was the Bush-Cheney administration that invented the lies, started the war, and was backed up in that false propaganda effort by the mainstream media establishment. Seems like giving political liars and media propagandists a free pass on misleading the public does serious damage to the credibility of erstwhile social science research!