What story do you and your team repeat over and over to each other, until that story becomes the unquestioned, unquestionable only story?
Would you maybe benefit from a change of story?
This is a serious analysis of the Russian ‘firehose of falsehood’ propaganda model, but — besides offering protection against such tactics — it made me think about how these cognitive biases show up in our daily lives, in the stories (or propaganda) that we repeat to ourselves and to those in our inner circle.
Repeated exposure to a statement has been shown to increase its acceptance as true.
The “illusory truth effect” is well documented, whereby people rate statements as more truthful, valid, and believable when they have encountered those statements previously than when they are new statements.
Even with preposterous stories and urban legends, those who have heard them multiple times are more likely to believe that they are true.
If an individual is already familiar with an argument or claim (has seen it before, for example), they process it less carefully, often failing to discriminate weak arguments from strong arguments.
This is a good example of what I think is a fairly healthy general principle for approaching scary news: zoom the fuck out, then zoom the fuck in.
Zoom The Fuck Out
Catch yourself getting caught up.
Putin is singlehandedly destroying truth!
Hold on. Stop the doomspread.
Look around you: does life go on? Does the sun still shine? Does your dog still love you? Is the heat death of the universe more than a lifetime away?
Then Zoom The Fuck In
How can you use the struggle of existence, the struggle of reading this article and grappling with its consequences, to become a better player for Team Human, right now?
Okay. Go and do that, then.