Just a simple question.

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Why are people today so sodding gullible? I have lost count of the conspiracies that seemingly rational acquaintances believe in. Of the 'anti-vaxxers' Of the 'Monsanto is the devil incarnate' Of the 'Cameron is a toff, so I'd rather let Milliband and Balls wreck the economy than vote for him" I'm sure you can all add more. Is nobody teaching people to critically examine anything? Or is "It's on the interweb, it must be true" all anyone bothers with today? Moggy
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Profile picture for user J Boyle

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Is nobody teaching people to critically examine anything? Moggy
Obviously not. Regardless of nationality, political leanings or education..there are a lot of non-critical thinkers out there.
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"It's on the interweb, it must be true" all anyone bothers with today?
LOL and lack of cross checking on a more relevant website ! Although I have not commented on it personally - on prune the recent Germanwings crash - surprise surprise brought the usual 'Habsheim' BS - really ? after so many years some people still believe the conspiracy theories ! Also on prune last year we had the Anti Wright Brother spammers - the lord only knows how many websites/forums they spammed - at least 10 worldwide !

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I have one acquaintance in particular who delights in sending out emails, usually involving political or racial issues. It only takes a few clicks on the Internet to find that these stories have been circulating for years. With various incarnations in Australia and the US. "Snopes" is your friend.

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The answer to your question is education - lack of. If we cannot instill basic literacy and numeracy in our young, what hope is there of teaching them to think ? Most teachers in State education and some in private would fall far short in this department. The broad mass of the population now believe anything put to them that is attributable in their mind to a reliable source. Hence the popularity of Wikipedia as an example.
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All true and I would add that the shear volume of information now easily accessible at the click of a button discourages thorough investigation and analysis. When you had to look something up in a reference book or books it took time, patience and thought. Attributes rarely utilised nowadays. Google and Wikipedia may be your friends but they are may also be your foes unless used intelligently.

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I suppose it is a result of the gradual transfer of control of the mainstream media, newspapers and television, from virtual state-control, through regulation, deregulation and finally to virtual zero-regulation and the rise of the virtually unregulated internet that has been one of the main causes of the rise of conspiracy theories. That coupled with the proliferation and affordability of television technology that at one time would only have been available to a state-run broadcaster; people have been conditioned to accept what they see on 'television' but now equivalent production values are possible from any suburban bedroom and the internet allows almost unrestricted and unregulated 'broadcast'. Commercial broadcasters haven't helped ether, especially when it comes to documentaries and 'reality television'; due to the enormous increase in their number and a fairly static number of viewers there is far more competition for ratings. In those circumstances the sensational, even in 'documentaries', is what sells!

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I agree that people are not critical enough of media sources. How else can you account for the comments sections in papers such as the Telegraph and the Mail in particular but also the Independent and Guardian where people always seem to assume that as most people who comment agree with them then their point of view is valid without any other credible sources backing them up. The recent comments in the Mail after an article where the 12% support for UKIP in a recent poll was greeted with incredulity as 'Everyone I know is going to vote UkIP therefore the poll is wrong' is a case I would use as an example to support my position on this. A newspaper by itself is not in my opinion an entirely credible source as they have a position to maintain and so will conveniently ignore any evidence that doesn't support their particular position. The Peter Oborne affair at the Telegraph is a case in point. As most of the media is acknowledged to be right of centre this can skew the available sources. Edit: whilst from Wikipedia, I would suggest that this article is credible in its apportion of political position http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_the_United_Kingdom I won't vote for Dave or Nigel not 'just because they are toffs' but because I have researched their policies (or lack thereof) and disagree with them as I don't accept their interpretation of the facts as I have encountered them. I disagree with John regarding the literacy and numeracy element of his comment, but agree not enough time is allocated in the rigid exam system that starts at 5 (for god's sake!) to encourage independent thinking. However, things can't be going all that badly wrong as so few young people seem willing to support UKIP. Not that they are very likely to vote, which in istelf is a poor reflection of how the young engage with politics. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/survey-shows-support-ukip-lacking-among-young-people-1481121 This lack of support amongst the young may be why I have just heard a UKIP spokesman on the radio saying that the age of voting in any referendum on EU should not include 16-18 year olds.
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It has always been there, but is so much easier to disseminate now through social media.
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I suppose it was inevitable that this would become another "political" thread....! Pace, John Green!!:)

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Charlie the question is: "Why are people so gullible" with which question, I happen to agree. I replied with an opinion based on my personal teaching experience. No politics or political comment on my part. If you have attended one of the 'proper' universities not an over hyped polytechnic, you will have been taught to think. If, without having attended a university you are able to think, you will be what is known as 'well read' which more usually accompanies an intelligent curiosity.
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Apologies John - in my rush to post I should have realised the blame lay with Trekbuster!! And we are in General agreement on this subject.
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Why are people so gullible now? I think people were always gullible, but they were out working in the fields or toiling away in factories and didn't have a voice. You can blame social media and the subtle shift towards news-as-a-live-action-soap-opera for that. We are now exposed to more gullible people on a daily basis, be it the cretins that the Daily Mail dig up (today's gullible headlines: Mother says her three-year-old daughter was banned from Blackpool Pleasure Beach rides because she has Down's syndrome and Heartbreaking moment a four-year-old Syrian child 'surrendered' when a photographer pointed his camera at her... and she assumed it was a gun) or whoever. Reckon either of those stories give you the whole picture? The story about the wee girl will be spun into 'this country employs too many jobsworths with no common sense' and the latter will be spun into 'see the damage done by evil brown people', to feed a pre-existing narrative in the heads of the gullible that like their news stories dressed up thus.

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If you're educated enough to sort the 'wheat from the chaff' then it doesn't really matter what kind of rubbish the media generate for public consumption.

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I suppose it was inevitable that this would become another "political" thread....! Pace, John Green!!:)
In my defence, the original post had a political statement re:Cameron The main thust of the question posed is why are people gullable, I put my reasons forward. I went to a 'proper' university under your definition, I also have teaching experience at both secondary and further education level and so I am well versed in the ability of young adults to think for themselves. I am also what I would hope to be regarded as well read, yet we come to very different conclusions. If this is political, sorry.

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There was rather a good analogy on why taxing the rich ( as Milliband wants to do ) simply does not work over on PPRUne and I have copied it across.
Every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100… If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this… The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay £1. The sixth would pay £3. The seventh would pay £7. The eighth would pay £12. The ninth would pay £18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59. So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free; but what about the other six men? – the paying customers. How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay . . . and so The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving) The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving) The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving) The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving) The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving) The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving) Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man ”but he got £10!” “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!” “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2 . . . the wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

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I think the last paragraph above just proves the very first sentence in this thread. 'Why are people so sodding gullible?' Because everyone pays tax, including those who don't pay income tax, the whole of the premise of the annecdote is, in my opinion of course, false. If quite amusing.

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Because everyone pays tax, including those who don't pay income tax, the whole of the premise of the annecdote is, in my opinion of course, false...
Everybody may pay 'tax' but what about the difference between what we 'pay' and what we 'take'... ...it is reckoned that only the top 40% of households actually pay anything 'net' into the state finances at all! The important thing is how much we take out relative to how much we put in.
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the whole of the premise of the annecdote is, in my opinion of course, false. If quite amusing.
I hate to say this but at grammar school we spelt anecdote different to you university educated chaps ; ) Sorry Trekky couldn't resist - And if you are voting for millipede/balls just be aware that Broon will be in the background squandering all our money again ; )

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Bazzer v, You are entirely right, poor proofreading on my part. Apologies, must try harder I can't vote for Milliband or Ed Balls as they are not likely to be prospective candidates in my constituency. Gordon Brown is leaving the commons to live in Fife and concentrate on his educational charity projects. Who I will be voting for? I genuinely don't know yet.
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Bazzer v, You are entirely right, poor proofreading on my part. Apologies, must try harder
I was only joking Trekky - obviously you have a gsoh - but I am not sure broon will stay out of the way - he is a born meddler who loves overcomplication !