posted on Aug, 10 2012 @ 01:16 PM
It has always been bouncing around our social circle: "Pics or it didn't happen."
Some find it meaningful, since they demand to see whatever another person claims they saw. Some think it an obtuse approach towards accumulating
information about sightings, experiences, or events... excluding personal accounts because their is no metric by which they can be measured....
So this article caught my eye: Pics and you assume it did
The study this OP is bringing you (DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0292-0
abstracted this way:
When people evaluate claims, they often rely on what comedian Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness,” or subjective feelings of truth. In four
experiments, we examined the impact of nonprobative information on truthiness. In Experiments 1A and 1B, people saw familiar and unfamiliar celebrity
names and, for each, quickly responded “true” or “false” to the (between-subjects) claim “This famous person is alive” or “This famous
person is dead.” Within subjects, some of the names appeared with a photo of the celebrity engaged in his or her profession, whereas other names
appeared alone. For unfamiliar celebrity names, photos increased the likelihood that the subjects would judge the claim to be true. Moreover, the same
photos inflated the subjective truth of both the “alive” and “dead” claims, suggesting that photos did not produce an “alive bias” but
rather a “truth bias.” Experiment 2 showed that photos and verbal information similarly inflated truthiness, suggesting that the effect is not
peculiar to photographs per se. Experiment 3 demonstrated that nonprobative photos can also enhance the truthiness of general knowledge claims (e.g.,
Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump). These effects add to a growing literature on how nonprobative information can inflate subjective
feelings of truth.
In the final analysis, the idea that simply presenting an image - whether factually relevant or not - will incline most people to assume it is true -
or at least to be less inclined to disbelieve it.
Here on ATS, we often see this principle at work. In many instances a photograph is challenged because in today's digital age, imagery can be
created - and the most skilled creators can often provide photographs which are virtually impossible to refute... yet, even when they are not so
compelling... this study tells us that the presentation of the image and the presentation of the question around it, will exploit our tendency to want
Yet on ATS we are somewhat more discerning and focused on more reality and less theater. So perhaps we are not a typical audience to which one could
apply this theory.
True or false: the macadamia nut is closely related to the peach. Most of us don't have the sort of background information that will let us
answer that with confidence. Still, we have a gut feeling about the answer—"Nuts and fruit? Probably not." These sort of gut reactions to things
can be key to helping us navigate through a world where we often don't have complete information.
So it's a bit disappointing to find out how easily our gut feelings can be manipulated. All it takes is a bit of extraneous information—a picture
of macadamias or a verbal description of them—and we're far more likely to assume that a statement is true.
The author of the source article raises a valid observation:
To make sure this didn't only work with people, the authors switched to true/false trivia questions, like the macadamia example mentioned above.
Again, photos (in this case, images of the subject of the question) caused people to answer "true" more often than they did in a control quiz. And
it wasn't just images. They could get a similar effect by reading a short description of the person in question.
The authors equate this with the "truthiness" popularized by Stephen Colbert, going so far as including the term in their paper's title. But it
seems to me that they're not really related. Truthiness seems to be something that feels true despite facts indicating the contrary. Here, people
typically didn't have enough information to make a call on the question, and were forced to rely on their instincts.
I am inclined to agree with the above excerpt.... what do you think?