People who are wrong can sometimes be real stupid
Shankar Vedantam's latest political psych piece is a good read, and utterly frustrating. He writes about what happens to people when they believe something that is incorrect (for example, that Sarah Palin fought against the "Bridge to Nowhere"). One might think that if you provide them clear information to show that the information is incorrect, their general view of the broader subject (say, their overall feeling on Palin) will return to where it was before they had that bit of misinformation.
And that's what we'd hope, what with everything the McCain campaign is saying (and now, to a limited extent, the media is finally starting to challenge a bit more, sort of).
But the research apparently shows that people like to believe what they believe, truth or not. (I know, I know -- classic example of social psych telling us obvious stuff. And stuff that lawyers who do jury trials have known forever. But still). So the news media saying "actually, she supported the bridge" will only help part way.
Or it may not help at all; it may hurt. Sometimes people will have the "backfire effect", in which they'll actually become more attached to an incorrect idea after being shown that it is wrong (and apparently this happens with conservatives, but not with liberals, according to the research so far). Anyway, it's an interesting read. And frustrating.