UNDERSTANDING THE ILLUSORY TRUTH EFFECT
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
During my studies and follow up to the Alien Boilerplate show, I wanted to know why scientists like Avi Loeb get silenced while other scientists that push agendas like Climate Change get all of the favorable press.
Conspiracy-minded individuals would say that the cover-ups can be explained away as some government plot to keep the truth from surfacing; that of course, would be the all-encompassing X-Files answer. But sometimes the statistics show that while the X-Files answer of the “truth is out there” has been cliché – it also is becoming political.
Now, you might say.”Clyde, of course, it is political” but there are those that develop their scientific hypothesis paying no mind to political criticism or some agenda and yet they risk their careers speaking out against what they feel is a big lie.
In conspiracy circles that look into UFO reports and exobiological theories, they are confronted with a two-pronged choice of “confirmation” of the phenomenon and an all-out “disclosure” process that includes a political admission that the phenomenon is real and that the government and the military have known about it for 70 years.
I have always thought that these political moves within the study of these anomalies have been counterintuitive and has driven opportunists to attack other researchers that do not want to participate in the politics of a new scientific investigation.
It can also be said that spirituality plays a role in these decisions, and again if one does not wish to supplant their religious views with views that ancient aliens are gods, they are sometimes met with all sorts of derision.
I remember when we had Stephen Bassett as a guest on the show a few weeks ago. He was asked to come on and speak about how Harry Reid is pushing other political colleagues to develop ways to fund more research into UFOs and matters of extraterrestrials.
Bassett calls himself an exopolitical activist and is responsible for the Congressional Hearing/Political Initiative that brought about the first hearings on Capitol Hill since 1968 regarding the extraterrestrial presence issue and working to see that issue included in political campaigns.
He certainly was not at all uncomfortable to show his political bias on these issues, especially when the conversation was about the John Podesta and Hillary Clinton promises of disclosure. It seemed that he spoke most favorably about what Podesta and Clinton attempted to do and seemed a bit acerbic when the idea of President Trump’s Space Force was brought up.
Now, I didn’t mind at all that he showed his political bias, but honestly, I would prefer not to push politics into the scientific inquiries about the alien question and eventual revelations that are not necessarily political.
Here in the United States, it can be said that we consider ourselves a bastion of free thought – a marketplace of ideas. But some scholars who questioned prevailing liberal groupthink have quickly discovered that academic inquiry has tightly-controlled limits.
There are more Democrat than Republican supporters among scientists of almost every academic field in the US, voter registration studies have shown.
In fields such as social studies and sociology, conservatives can be outnumbered a dozen or more to one. With such an overwhelming advantage in numbers, one might think that dissenting viewpoints in these fields would not pose a meaningful threat to prevailing orthodoxies.
Unfortunately, a number of high-profile cases reveal that scholars and thinkers – some who do not even identify as conservative risk their careers when they challenge the liberal majority.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who served two Democratic presidents, found himself ostracized by the left after he gave a short address exploring the reasons why women are under-represented in tenured positions in science and engineering at elite universities and research institutions.
Summers ultimately concluded that the phenomenon may be due to a difference in aptitude at the highest levels of scientific work but admitted his hypothesis was provocative and encouraged the audience to prove him wrong.
Instead of sparking a rigorous academic debate on the subject, Summers was dragged through the mud and labeled an unrepentant sexist. He later stepped down as president of Harvard University – a decision which many attributes to his “sexist” comments.
Although Summers provided economic guidance for the Obama White House, his remarks reportedly cost him the top job at the Treasury Department.
What is said is that at this time in history we are now being misdirected by scientists, religious officials, Hollywood actors, politicians, and media pundits who seek agendas, propagate them and then silence anyone who wishes to challenge their ideas.
For example, little by little the mainstream American consciousness is slowly coming to terms with the ending of the ever-enduring spin of a conspiracy theory that claimed that the highest levels of the US government had been infiltrated by the Kremlin.
This whole week we have been watching how the media that pushed this conspiracy theory have to backpedal in order to save face. Twitter has been blowing up over CNN and how they focused mostly on the Russian collusion story.
CNN boss Jeff Zucker who awkwardly defended his network’s coverage of the Mueller probe said on Twitter that their job was to report facts “as we know them,” rather than, you know, investigating.
He stated “We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did.”
Well, they are not even journalists, they are editorialists. They have their biases just like Fox news and other news outlets, but it became tiresome to hear their news editorialist beat a dead horse.
Think about it – the mass media and the Democratic Party spent the last two-and-a-half years monopolizing public attention with a narrative which never had any underlying truth to it.
But of course, like what we see in science, there are more liberal news editors than there are conservative ones and so the majority sets the agenda and so the conservative view gets the ridicule but of course, those that are in the middle and can see how the discussion was pointless were said to be Trump supporters when in reality they were neither republican or democrat.
There are still holdouts, of course. Many people invested a tremendous amount of hope, credibility, and ego currency in the belief that Robert Mueller was going to arrest high-ranking Trump administration officials and members of Trump’s own family, they are still holding out for Trump’s arrest or impeachment – they may still get it but it won’t be over Russian collusion.
Some insist that Attorney General William Barr is holding back key elements of the Mueller report, a claim which is premised on the absurd belief that Mueller would allow Barr to lie about the results of the investigation without speaking up publicly.
Others are still holding out hope that other investigations by other legal authorities will turn up some Russian collusion that Mueller could not; ignoring Mueller’s sweeping subpoena powers and unrivaled investigative authority.
This conspiracy theory believe it or not is not ever going to go away and people will keep believing that there was a cover-up.
The question still remains: How did a fact-free conspiracy theory come to gain so much traction among mainstream Americans? How were millions of people persuaded to invest hope in a narrative that anyone objectively analyzing the facts knew to be completely false?
The answer is that they were told that the Russiagate narrative was legitimate over and over again by politicians and mass media pundits, and, because of a peculiar phenomenon in the nature of human cognition, this repetition made it seem true.
The Illusory Truth Effect describes the way people are more likely to believe something is true after hearing it said many times. This is due to the fact that the familiar feeling we experience when hearing something we’ve heard before feels very similar to our experience of knowing that something is true.
When we hear a familiar idea, its familiarity provides us with something called cognitive ease, which is the relaxed, unlabored state we experience when our minds aren’t working hard at something. We also experience cognitive ease when we are presented with a statement that we know to be true.
We have a tendency to select ideas and information for cognitive ease, which is why confirmation bias is a thing; believing ideas which don’t cause cognitive strain or dissonance gives us more cognitive ease than doing otherwise.
For example, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said recently that if we don’t start to address climate change aggressively right now, the world will end in 12 years.
Of course, people with any sense of discernment can tell that this is nothing more than an exaggeration to illustrate the alleged catastrophe’s that can come with Climate Disruption.
The world can end at any time but putting an expiration date of 12 years to prove a point is what speakers do to keep your attention. Sadly the statement is being used to create an illusory truth effect.
You may remember that Senator Diane Feinstein was confronted by school children urging her to go forward and support the Green New Deal proposed by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The group who called themselves the “Sunrise Movement” showed up in Feinstein’s office to encourage her to vote yes on the New Green Deal. When Feinstein attempted to teach the children that the deal would not pass – a little girl piped up and said “Some scientists are saying that we have 12 years to turn this around,” nearly parroting the words of Cortez.
Recently, the Youth Strike for Climate, made headlines. Hundreds of thousands of children, across the world, have been involved in various forms of strike action in protest against global warming.
While mass absenteeism presented a bit of a problem for schools, who should record a child’s absence for any reason other than illness as ‘unauthorized,’ the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union were also supportive. Despite some ‘official concerns,’ clearly, there was a tacit acceptance of the strike from government education departments around the world.
All of which begs some interesting questions. Whose idea was it that schoolchildren as young as 5 yrs old should get involved in political protest?
When some of the children were asked why they were marching, they again said that the earth had 12 years left and they wanted to have a future.
There is no proof that the earth will end in 12 years because of Climate change – but the lie has been told, is reinforced and teachers are allowing children to think that this is a true statement in order to continue the illusory truth – rather than the facts.
The media has helped the movement by promoting the children’s day of action as if it were some sort of spontaneous up-swell of youthful activism, however, that too is false.
You don’t launch a coordinated global event in a matter of weeks simply by posting a few memes on Twitter.
The Youth Strike for Climate was backed by a network of environmentalist and radical political lobby groups. “Fridays for Future“ which is pushing for implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, widely promoted the strike. They claim to be a ‘grassroots’ movement inspired by a 16yr old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg.
Greta staged her own school day walkout and formed her solo picket line outside the Swedish Parliament in the lead up to Swedish elections. Just two days before the elections, and only two weeks after starting her solitary protest, international media organizations the world over, such as the BBC, were already extolling the virtues of her ‘struggle.’ An incredible piece of global media manipulation by one so young.
Again, the reinforcement of the 12-year end of the world lie was featured as a reason for her walk out. This is an example of how the Illusory Truth Effect shapes thought and convinces people that it is the truth when it is a lie.
Science has been aware of the illusory truth effect since 1977 when a study found that subjects were more likely to evaluate a statement as true when it’s been repeatedly presented to them over the course of a couple of weeks, even if they didn’t consciously remember having encountered that statement before.
These findings have been replicated in numerous studies since, and new research in recent years has shown that the phenomenon is even more drastic than initially believed. A 2015 paper titled “Knowledge Does Not Protect Against Illusory Truth” found that the illusory truth effect is so strong that sheer repetition can change the answers that test subjects give, even when they had been in possession of knowledge contradicting that answer beforehand.
This study was done to test the assumption which had gone unchallenged up until then that the illusory truth effect only comes into play when there is no stored knowledge of the subject at hand.
This explains why we all know people who are extraordinarily intelligent, but still bought into the Russiagate narrative just as much as our less mentally apt friends and acquaintances.
Their intelligence didn’t save them from this debunked conspiracy theory, it just made them more clever in finding ways of defending it. This is because the illusory truth effect largely bypasses the intellect and even one’s own stored knowledge, because of the way we all reflexively select for cognitive ease.
There are still those who are dismayed that are still waiting for the other shoe to drop. The shoe that would send Trump to jail for some Russian exchange that was overlooked.
Another study titled “Incrimination through innuendo: Can media questions become public answers?” found that subjects can be manipulated into believing an allegation simply by exposure to innuendo or incriminating questions in news media headlines. Questions like, for example, “What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?”, printed by New York Magazine in July of last year.
It is a simple matter of planting seeds of doubt or spin a “what if” based on an assumption and a solution or answer developed on a whim to reinforce the idea that Trump was guilty even though he was not.
There is also circumstantial spin where we see other flaws in Trump’s character like his narcissism, his misogyny, as a reason why he is guilty –when they have nothing to do with whether or not he is a Russian spy.
Some of the president’s haters no doubt wish to memory-hole collusion and move on to the next anti-Trump theory and they may find something because we know that many politicians hide skeletons.
You can understand, then, how a populace who is consuming repetitive assertions, innuendo, and incriminating questions on a daily basis through the screens that they look at many times a day could be manipulated into believing that Robert Mueller would one day reveal evidence which will lead to the destruction of the Trump administration.
The repetition leads to belief, the belief leads to trust, and before you know it people who are scared of the president are parking themselves in front of Rachel Maddow every night and letting everything she says slide right past their skepticism filters, marinating comfortably in a sedative of cognitive bias.
Finally, there is yet one more example of how this trick is being used, however, poorly and that is in the weird case of Jussie Smollett.
The case against Jussie Smollett was fully dismissed and the court files were sealed. Now, many people including Smollett want you to believe that this means he is innocent of staging a racially motivated attack against him in Chicago.
This doesn’t but after listening to him you would think that if he repeats it enough people will start to believe that the ruling means he is innocent.
Before the public becomes confused it is important to remember that Chicago Police discovered evidence indicating that Smollett had paid two brothers of Nigerian descent $3,500 to stage the attack. The brothers worked as extras on Empire.
The proof against them was irrefutable: Financial records indicated that the brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Ravenswood over the weekend of January 25; they were also caught on camera in a clothing store where they bought gloves, ski masks, and a red hat that the police say was used in the attack.
The brothers asked specifically for a MAGA hat, which the store doesn’t sell.
After interrogating the brothers, Chicago police released because “information they presented during the interrogation scored them their exit from custody.”
They basically “outed” Smollett and the police were grateful.
Smollett was charged with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. On March 8, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of “false report of offense” related to the incident.
At one point, Smollett’s legal team asked that the grand jury proceeding be postponed so he could provide new details.
The grand jury heard the evidence and police said, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved a felony disorderly conduct charge against the actor.
Under Illinois law, filing a false police report is disorderly conduct and punishable by one to three years in prison. The police report stated that the investigation revealed that a plan was formulated and put into play by SMOLLETT to conduct a staged incident where SMOLLETT was beaten by (brothers’ names redacted) posing as persons other than themselves.
They had the evidence, they had the checks proving the exchange of money, they had the testimony of the two brothers, and then for some reason, the charges were dropped.
Smollett then stated, “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of.”
“This has been an incredibly difficult time,” he said. “Honestly, one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I’m a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives, or the movement into a fire like this. I just wouldn’t. Now I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistake I will always continue to fight for justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.”
Smollett sees himself as a hero in the black and gay community and those who support him will certainly stroke their cognitive bias saying that he has been exonerated.
The truth is exoneration comes from a court appearance and a decision by a jury – there was proof that he committed a crime and yet he has the audacity to put forth the illusion that he was innocent the whole time and that the charges being dropped prove his innocence.
He is trying once again to push Illusory Truth Effect — this is obvious and it is amazing that he thinks that no one can see that again he is acting – he is putting on a show.
We need to understand how we are being manipulated. Those who are masters of deceit understand how our minds work better than we do.
You can’t just decide that is better to slip into cognitive ease than to use rigorous thinking and discernment, otherwise, you will believe anything.