New research links those who listen to their intuition over hard evidence with buying into conspiracy theories and falsehoods.
Maybe don’t listen to your gut.
People who say they trust their intuition – and who believe that all facts are politically biased – are more likely to believe in conspiracies and fake news, according to a new study from Ohio State University.
Those who put their faith in evidence, however, are less likely to have misconceptions about science and politics.
The researchers examined data from three nationally representative surveys that asked 12 questions including, “I trust my gut to tell me what’s true and what’s not,” “Evidence is more important than whether something feels true” and “Facts are dictated by those in power.”
Then they compared how the subjects approached deciding what’s true or false with their beliefs on hot-button topics, such as whether there is a link between vaccines and autism, or whether human activity affects climate change.
The researchers found that people who believe politics and power influence “the truth” were more likely to embrace misconceptions – like the debunked link between vaccines and autism – while those who rely on evidence were less likely to accept falsehoods.
Those who trusted their gut feelings also had a stronger tendency to support conspiracy theories, although their belief that “truth” is political was the strongest overall indicator. Almost half (more than 45%) of respondents said they didn’t believe that John F. Kennedy was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald alone; and one third (33%) are convinced that the U.S. government was behind Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Intuition can guide you to making better decisions under some circumstances – like trusting your first guess in answering a multiple choice question. Research has found that some of the most successful financial trainers are better at reading their gut feelings than the general public. But going by only intuition without the support of other evidence can also put you at risk of making a bad financial investment or trusting someone who’s actually untrustworthy.
“Scientific and political misperceptions are dangerously common in the U.S. today,” added Kelly Garrett, the lead researcher and a professor of communication at The Ohio State University. “These results suggest that if you pay attention to evidence, you’re less likely to hold beliefs that aren’t correct.”
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