Toward a More Willful Ignorance

Matt Yglesias pulls this quote from a report on immigration:


In both experiments, the information influenced attitudes very little. We conclude by noting the potential limits of "information effects" on mass attitudes.
I think fair-minded people who make a living arguing opinions should always keep this in mind. Facts have limits. People will often believe what they judge to be in their interest to believe. This is  a fairly human trait--as in the mother whose son has just butchered a family and tells us that he was always "such a good boy." No one ever shoots anyone. The weapon magically discharges.

In these discussions of the Civil War and Ron Paul, I've had ample opportunities to reflect on "the potential limits of informational effects."
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in National

From This Author

Just In