Are book readers a bubble?
#1  b0rsuk 02-07-2021, 02:56 PM
Research Article
Personal experiences bridge moral and political divides better than facts

My conclusion: Book readers are a... bubble. Reading books gives you either more facts, or second hand experience. A well-read person mostly impresses book readers. It's like preaching to the choir.

You could say you just read books for your own pleasure. Fine. Just don't expect to bring up something you read in a conversation and convince anyone. It's like bringing up mystical (personal, non-verifiable) experiences. It's not something most people appreciate.

#2  rkomar 02-07-2021, 03:36 PM
Or maybe the current popular distrust of "facts" is the bubble? Sooner or later, reality intrudes into fantasies.

#3  haertig 02-07-2021, 03:55 PM
These days, the definition of a "fact" is "somebody declared this to be a fact". It doesn't have to be a literal fact at all. The more declarations, the more factual it becomes in the eyes of those who want to believe it.

Facts are in the eye of the beholder. Using actual facts (the classical definition of them) in making your case is usually a waste of time, like it or not. The only times actual facts may make a difference is in a discussion of something of minor consequence, like "Who wore the red shirt and who wore the blue shirt - Gilligan or the Skipper?" Anything more important than that? Forget the facts!

#4  hildea 02-07-2021, 03:59 PM
An interesting article. I don't really see it as especially significant to book readers versus other people -- it seems to me that most of those disagreements that the article refers to come from reading different news sources, not so much from reading different books.

Here's an interesting description of a related concept: the backfire effect.

#5  issybird 02-07-2021, 04:04 PM
Moderator Notice
Longtime members know that political posts belong in P&R.

#6  rcentros 02-07-2021, 09:51 PM
Quote b0rsuk
...You could say you just read books for your own pleasure. Fine. ...
Yep. I read for pleasure and for my own education. Politics hasn't been fact-driven for decades. (If ever.)

#7  JSWolf 02-08-2021, 06:26 AM
Quote rcentros
Yep. I read for pleasure and for my own education. Politics hasn't been fact-driven for decades. (If ever.)
There are way too many people who believe these lies and not just in the US.

#8  pwalker8 02-08-2021, 09:00 AM
It's been known since the ancient Greeks and Romans that rhetoric rather than fact is what convinces people, that's why you see the same rhetorical tricks being used online that were used by Roman orators. For that matter, I've noticed that many people online will accept what some anonymous blogger says over an quote from a book by a noted expert on the subject.

#9  Paperbackstash 02-08-2021, 11:15 AM
Sometimes in conversations with people I'll bring up something I've read in a book that makes me think, or that I learned, related to a topic I'm discussing with said person. In this way I think it seeps out. Primarily I'm a genre fiction reader who reads for pleasure and fantasy, not education, although I do sneak in non-fiction of subjects I'm interested in. It all depends.

#10  b0rsuk 02-08-2021, 11:58 AM
In my discussions with stubborn people, I learned to be reserved and careful with making arguments. Many people have very short attention span. You only get a few seconds to make your point, so make them count. It's not too different in written form. More elaborate arguments might make people stuck on details and lose the track of your main point.

It's a fair observation that recent years are seeing a surge of 'gut feeling' and skepticism against science. Some of it is people with agendas, and governments have caught on how to manipulate people using paid social media accounts and bots. Personal charisma rules youtube. While rationality has its ebbs and flows, I think maybe we overestimated how rational people are in general. It turns out facts are not an universal language. Even facts are susceptible to cherry picking and selection bias. Maybe the internet and social media just made it more apparent. People in smaller communities were always a bit like that, it's just that now they can voice their opinion on an unprecedented scale and feel they don't need experts anymore.

There are a few countries which actively battle fake news and have success, such as Finland and - if I remember correctly - Singapore. The key is having educated citizens capable of critical thinking, and responding quickly with debunking. Others, including the one I live in, practice divide&conquer on their own citizens(note Romans used it on enemies) and think leading uneducated masses is easier. But I don't want to turn it into a discussion about politics, despite the efforts of the moderator.

I'm trying to be more emphatic when talking to people. It's easier to meet in the middle and reach a mutual understanding if you appeal to the values of the other person. Or is it? If I try to convince someone using HIS values, am I still making MY argument? Do the ends justify the means? Is the point of every conversation to convince the other person? Should it be?

Surprisingly few books are about facts that can't be questioned. Even when you act on facts, you can reach wrong conclusions. A famous example is WW2 survivorship bias. US military was keen to put the most armor plating in areas with the most bullet holes. Very few holes were found around the fuel tank or the pilot's seat...

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