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The Most Depressing Discovery About the Brain, Ever

Say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, or reason can provide the tools that people need in order to make good decisions.

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Maybe climate change denial isn’t the right term; it implies a psychological disorder.  Denial is business-as-usual for our brains.  More and better facts don’t turn low-information voters into well-equipped citizens.  It just makes them more committed to their misperceptions.  In the entire history of the universe, no Fox News viewers ever changed their minds because some new data upended their thinking.  When there’s a conflict between partisan beliefs and plain evidence, it’s the beliefs that win.  The power of emotion over reason isn’t a bug in our human operating systems, it’s a feature. 

Marty Kaplan, winner of the LA Press Club’s  Best Columnist  award, is the  Norman Lear professor  of entertainment, media and society at the  USC Annenberg  School for Communication and Journalism.  Reach him at

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