Eyewitness testimony has been the bedrock of our justice system. Studies have repeatedly shown, though, how unreliable our recollections can be. False memories can be slipped into our memory by third parties. Or we see what we expected to see and our mind fills in missing detail and that becomes our memory. We tend to re-tell a story according to the listener. Defense attorneys know this. With retelling, we become more certain that an erroneous recollection is true.
Researchers at Stanford University had volunteers review suicide notes and decide which were real and which were made up. They were informed of their scores; some were told they were correct in almost every instance, others that they were wrong on most of their choices. Except all the scores were fictitious and had no relation to the subjects’ actual performance. Even after being informed their scores were bogus, subjects originally given high scores still persisted in believing they were exceptionally perceptive, much better than average in determining what was true.
Which brings us to Fox News and its loyal viewers…
Right-wingers have been frothing about the nefarious deal Hillary “Lock her up!” Clinton made, selling U.S. uranium to Russia in exchange for large contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Fox News has been relentless in promoting the story, feeding the outrage against Mrs. Clinton. But then Fox talking head Shepard Smith went on the air and, point by point, took apart the story. He dispassionately pointed out that Clinton was not Secretary of State when the sale occurred, that the State Department was only one of nine Federal agencies involved, that the company, Uranium One, was mostly Canadian owned, that none of the uranium in question would leave the United States. Et cetera.
Fox’s audience was not interested in facts. They turned their outrage against Shep Smith.
“I feel you are actually CNN (fake news) when Shep Smith is on.”
“Get rid of him. He is a shill for Hillary as most gays are. Does not have the integrity to be on Fox.”
“Shep Smith needs to be fired for his biased reporting!!!!”
… and on and on.
Shepard Smith should stay with Fox News. Viewers need to be confronted with documented information, even if only rarely.