BS Headline

Headlines are expected to excite, incite and other wise pique our interest, so naturally they incorporate a lot of nonsense. Here is one I saw recently: We Are Conditioned by Mass Media to Choose Up Sides. I didn't see a lot in the story to justify the headline, but it incorporates a familiar, and I think, misleading meme: the notion that our basic attitudes are formed by some kind of conditioning or propaganda.

I suspect that in this, and much else, there is a more fundamental principle at work: evolution. Humans are social animals, and we spend a whole lot of effort in building and maintaining coalitions. Failure to be a member of a coalition, or being a member of the wrong coalition, has a long history of fatal effects. This fact is all one needs to understand why people tend to "choose up sides," as is well documented in both psychological studies and in history.


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