Why People Don't Want The Truth: How the brain filters bad news


We are more likely to be receptive to good news than bad, and a team at UCL has gone some way to explaining why we prefer to look on the bright side

Co-author Ryota Kanai administering transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to a participant's brain
Co-author Ryota Kanai administering transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which sends magnetic pulses into a participant's brain. Photograph: National Academy of Sciences

Most of us go through life with a selective ear for the news we take in. We hear the good more than the bad, the flattering more than the insulting. And we update our beliefs in a way that reflects that bias.

The effect appears in many guises. We update our self image when told we are smarter or better-looking than we thought. But if we hear we are more stupid and uglier than we supposed, we revise that image rather less. In the general population, about 80% to 90% of us behave this way.

The regions of the brain to which TMS was administered The regions to which TMS was administered. The right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) is on the right, and the left IFG is on the left. Photograph: National Academy of Sciences

There are pros and cons to what neuroscientists call the "good news/bad news effect", though by the nature of the beast, you might dismiss the negatives. In building beliefs predominantly on good news, we lean towards an optimistic view of life. We are less anxious of the likelihoods of unpleasant events: cancer, burglary, internet fraud, missing a flight, divorce.

There is a cost to this rose-tinted view of the world though. To ignore bad news can be dangerous. It can make us overconfident, perhaps even reckless. It might leave us unprepared for a natural disaster, naive to the dangers of contracting disease, or oblivious to the warning signs of impending financial collapse.

In a series of experiments at University College London, a team of neuroscientists has gone some way to explaining how this preference for good news arises in the brain. Through disrupting the function of a small brain region, they neutralised the bias and left people as open to bad news as they were to good. READ MORE HERE>>

(TLS-) It seems that people just want to feel good and wander through their lives. This article proves to me we're not done evolving yet as this is a major design flaw in my eyes and our greatest challenge. Most people are not interested in the truth because it's usually bad news and scary, sorry 9-11 was an inside, outside, Mossad, Saudi, ISI job! Fighting nature is tough but can be done.

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Comment by Patriot Pete on September 30, 2012 at 1:48am

Are there self-serve check outs in supermarkets in the US Tara? of course there would be, but do they ask in that robotic voice: "Do you wish to print a receipt" .... I hit the "Yes" button every time no matter what

In supermarkets of all things, you gotta be thinkin' all the time, can't give it a rest or else you're doomed

Comment by Tara on September 30, 2012 at 1:28am

Spin or no spin Peter... most human beings tune out the truth out of fear of the unknown. Because with knowing the truth comes responsibility and that would mean they would have to do something about it. And that is called change... starting first from within and then manifesting outwards. It can not ever happen in reverse. That is what frightens humans into submission, the thought of really having to change. It's just easier to go along to get along rather than being that change you seek.

There's a new slavery in the US and abroad today... and that is called institutionalized slavery. Most people would rather live a comfortable life of ignorance than ever dare think. Thinking has become a scary notion. 1984 anyone?

Comment by Patriot Pete on September 30, 2012 at 1:06am

Don't listen to spin ! if you do, then think the opposite of what the spin is saying

Spin has found it's way into small business these days, it's a self defense mechanism they've adopted when you as a customer complain about a recently purchased product or service

They attempt to psych you out with scientific or mathematical diatribe - hoping you'll find your own way to the door, go home and sleep it off

Buyer beware ! anticipate spin of all kinds, anywhere and everywhere

Comment by Cryptocurrency on September 29, 2012 at 3:58pm

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

Sir Winston Churchill
Comment by Ken Brodeur on September 29, 2012 at 1:35pm

People prefer power to the truth, especially coddled modern mankind.

Comment by Patriot Pete on September 28, 2012 at 9:52pm

Well we better learn more about the human mind first before we go much further with developing robots etc that we think will overtake our lives. The fact is that the human brain is continually regenerating itself - dead cell out, new cell in - and each new cell is slightly different to the old cell it replaced, but only slightly, so little it makes virtually no difference at all to our thinking or memorizing ... and each cell has DNA for all sorts of things including the aging process - robots are not intelligent enough yet to get wrinkles, now are they ?

Artificial Intelligence has a long way to go but will never reach parity with the human mind which we haven't even really begun to discover all it's workings. One is the Feast and Famine Wave, deep and in the beginnings of the process of the mind, it appears to be the "Driver" of the mind. Just as a computer program needs a driver, so too does the human mind it would seem. It was I who discovered this driver in the late '70s and as I plotted it on paper over many many months it gave up very accurate predictions, so accurate in fact that I came to the conclusion that it must be the wave that history repeats itself upon. The predictions were interpreted from the daily information I gathered and saved with dates that correspond with the daily plotting of the wave - and there is good news about this predicting, it's not guess work, it's just a matter of reading the stored information and applying those same human activity tendencies to the same point in the future as it was in the past, on the anticipated future wave plotting, which will have the same pattern as already plotted, because it doesn't vary that much to cause problems of any significance. The wave plot line and the stored info do it all for you, the operator (you and me) only has to read it

This is just one new discovery of great usefulness (yes even politicians can't escape), so how many more remain undiscovered ? many I should imagine  


Comment by raymond _______ on September 28, 2012 at 9:23pm

Denial is a sickness.

Comment by Cryptocurrency on September 28, 2012 at 1:22pm

The brain protects the subjective observer from reality. These are the defense mechanisms inherent within all of us. The Illuminati/NWO science Czars and other adepts in controlling humans have always used these filters of the mind to manipulate. The mind has many firewalls just like a sophisticated computer system. Con artists exploit these firewalls like a computer hacker. Same is true of politicians, intelligence agency psy ops etc.

Sophisticated methods of mind control going back to the Hashishin, the Thuggee Cult and medieval ninja of Japan are still used today; that capitalize on these defense mechanisms. Imagine how much more can be accomplished with the advent of modern technology... television programming, Madison Ave advertising, neuro science (think James Holmes) micro tech, nano... the sad revelation for the sensible person here is most of us are under some form of mind control right now. The ancient term for this in the cradle of arcanum was "glamour."

Comment by TheLasersShadow on September 27, 2012 at 3:01am

Good site on transhumanism James. Transhumanism isn't evil but the people who are funding it are, for the most part. They want to kill all of us and only have a small amount of original humans as slave pets while they use all the the available tech to achieve "Godhood" immortality. I'm for science all day just not force in it's application.

Comment by truth on September 27, 2012 at 1:57am

I think Russ has a valid point. I didn't know about trans-humanism until recently, so I understand the ??? :) . I think a simple explanation is people merging with machines. Creepy and yet interesting to a sci-fi geek.

Humanity+ is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well. http://humanityplus.org/about/

Top Ten Transhumanist Technologies

"Destroying the New World Order"


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