When the facts aren’t of our liking we tend to dismiss them. That’s what a new study published in The Journal of Applied Social Psychology brings to light. According to the authors, when confronted with scientific evidence contrary to their beliefs, people will deem that the belief in question can’t be studied by Science. Moreover, they seem to lose confidence on the ability of Science. From the abstract:
The scientific impotence discounting hypothesis predicts that people resist belief-disconfirming scientific evidence by concluding that the topic of study is not amenable to scientific investigation. In 2 studies, participants read a series of brief abstracts that either confirmed or disconfirmed their existing beliefs about a stereotype associated with homosexuality. Relative to those reading belief-confirming evidence, participants reading belief-disconfirming evidence indicated more belief that the topic could not be studied scientifically and more belief that a series of other unrelated topics could not be studied scientifically. Thus, being presented with belief-disconfirming scientific evidence may lead to an erosion of belief in the efficacy of scientific methods.
A clear case of cognitive dissonance. Confronted with two opposite cognitions – in the studies case existing beliefs and scientifical evidence – we seek a way to restore consonance, usually by dismissing one of the cognitions (we can also change one of the cognitions, ignore the dissonance, or create a new order that aggregates both dissonant cognitions). In the case reported, personal beliefs were stronger than scientifical evidence and so the last one was dismissed. Something that we can see very often with religious people.
Link for the article (full article under pay wall).