Today I want to write about why facts don't matter. Or that is, they do matter, but mostly for the wrong reasons, and never when you want to change someone's mind. This is called the False Belief Syndrome. False Belief Syndrome is extremely difficult to dispel in someone. False Belief Syndrome, or FBS (an acronym that could also stand for Fucking Bullshit) is when someone believes something regardless of factual evidence that contradicts their belief.
In 2014 The New Yorker published a piece about FBS, and it's fantastic. If you want a more detailed look at this, read that article here.
FBS is a psychological phenomenon that is not specific to any demographic, political leaning culture, etc. It is pervasive throughout society and harmful in a multitude of ways. A classic example of FBS is that vaccinations causes autism. While this claim was refuted time and again, and again, and there are scholarly papers and research results showing that this is not that case, many people still believe it. Not only that, but the factual arguments don't change minds. Instead, the facts strengthen believers against the facts.
This is seen in politics as well, and I think this is where it's most relevant today. Take the Clinton Foundation for example: Factcheck as well as other charity watchdog organizations have found that 89% of the money funneled into the Clinton Foundation has gone to programs and aid for those in need. These facts, given by reputable sources, will be pushed aside by those who do not want to believe Hillary Clinton has done something (anything) good for humanity. Again, instead of accepting a checked fact as being accurate, people who disbelieve this will only see this statistic as more proof that what they believe is real, i.e. Hillary Clinton is corrupt and a bad person, despite the evidence to the contrary.
Another interesting aspect of FBS is that once something is implied and a person believes it, retracting it as false does not dispel their belief. For instance, despite the obvious fact that Donald Trump has become rich by exporting jobs to other countries for years, many people believe he will somehow bring back the manufacturing jobs of yesteryear, despite the fact that open manufacturing positions started to decline, even in China, back in 2012. If you look at his track record there is no evidence to support this, nor is there any evidence that he has any plan to change an economy that has been on the upswing for the last four years. Another example of this is the belief that ISIS and radical Islam have infiltrated the United States and are actively training soldiers on US soil. Of course, there is no evidence to support this, in fact there is much evidence to refute it. Yet it's still a belief some hold.
The cause of FBS isn't what you might think. It isn't because people have an agenda they seek to fulfill or because they are generally confrontational. FBS has everything to do with identity. Researchers found that if a fact disputes a belief someone has that is tied to their identity, then that fact will only serve to strengthen their wrongful beliefs. They will find ways to justify it, such as, Factcheck.org is corrupt and only exists to make Hillary Clinton look good, or despite manufacturing jobs becoming less and less available in China (since 2012), Trump will still revitalize an industry that has seen more automation than exportation--ensuring a manufacturing jobs are good and gone. FBS is more about preserving your identity than it is about a political party or specific fact. Once you identify with an idea, that idea becomes part of your self-image, which in turn is difficult to let go. An attack on your belief, regardless of the facts, is an attack on your own self-image. That is why people who demonstrate FBS can become hostile in both word and action.