Friday, February 17, 2012

Correcting Error? Or Manipulating Opinion?

Party Doctrine: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. -- G. Orwell, 1984

Andrew Butler, a post-doctoral researcher in Duke's Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, led a recent study (2012) of how students “correct” their opinions. In an article called ”New insights into how to correct false knowledge” he comments, "Errors that are deeply entrenched in memory are notoriously difficult to correct. Providing students with feedback is the first step because it enables them to identify the error and learn the correct information."

Actually, there are three prior steps Butler missed. Students should have been assessed on issues of Care, Trust and Power. Butler should have grouped them according to their responses to the follow questions:
For each item of information presented students should have been asked
a. Do you care whether this item is right or wrong?
b. Are you willing to accept what the experiment leader says is right or wrong?
c. Do you have the power to publicly disagree without fear of reprisal with what the experiment leader tells you.

Butler’s experiment is about the efficacy of techniques of persuasion. It offers no guarantees to the subjects of his experiment that what he is giving them is knowledge.

For references and to examine these issues further, see PERSONAL LIBERATION THROUGH EDUCATION

--- EGR