“People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true.” Terry Goodkind author of: Wizards First Rule.
Eating peanut butter will cause cancer. Drinking sap from a maple tree will cure cancer. To believe or not to believe, that is the question. People tend to pay more attention to hopeful or fearful news and events to fulfill our psychological needs. This essay will discuss hope (wishful thinking), fear (negativity bias), and the evolutionary process.
What makes us pay attention? Davies, J. Author of Riveted: The science of why jokes make us laugh, movies make us cry, and religion makes us feel one with the universe, states “We are compelled by things we fear because some parts of our minds treat frightening information as important, be it truth, fiction, or lies. We are compelled by things that give us hope because hope makes us feel happy or better prepared to encounter future difficulties”. Dr. Jim Davies, Professor at Carleton University, expands upon this and how positive and neutral information is less sought after than the negative, is explained through Davies ‘anti-sweet spot theory’.
Davies explains how people are riveted by hope; believing something to be true, to want it to be the truth, this is wishful thinking, for example, drinking sap from a maple tree will cure cancer, Hmmm… really? We all know that this is most likely not true, yet we still want to believe it is; ‘let’s hope and pray this works.’ Even with solid evidence, people tend to disbelieve the truth if it interferes with their worldly views, or makes them feel unhappy. Personal gratification tends to make people underestimate the risks and overestimate the rewards, an example of this would be people thinking they are happily married, and will never get divorced, having a great job, and never losing it, or how they are…