Science has been improving and developing its methods and it has become more and more easier to establish facts in areas such as physics, medicine and policy. Since facts are becoming available to a larger extend people have wondered why polarization and bias have not been defeated. Facts are not something you can agree upon and do not differ between people. Naturally people sometimes dispute the validity of facts. However, it is often found that people take it a step further and reframe an issue in an untestable way. This makes science and important facts ultimately irrelevant to the issue.
A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined the risky way by which people get away from facts if they disagree with their worldviews. They presented people who either supported or opposed same-sex marriage with facts about the parenting of same-sex parents. When the facts opposed their views, participants were more likely to state that this issue is not about facts but more a question of moral opinion. However, when the facts were actually on their side, they stated more often than their opinion was fact-based and not so much moral-based.
A similar study used religious participants that were to read an article that was critical of religion. Participants that were especially high in religiosity were more likely to turn to untestable ”blind faith” arguments for their beliefs.
What these experiments show, according to the researchers, is that when people’s believes are threatened, they often take flight to a land where facts do not matter. When it comes to politics, this fleeing away from facts applies as well. You often hear people opposing a policy based on the argument that they simply do not work. But when facts state that the policy actually does work, the same person might flee to the argument that he or she is opposed because of a principle stand. This is seen on both sides of the political spectrum.
Objective facts give rise to the hope of people reaching consensus more easily. However, politics are more polarized than even; as well in the United States as in Europe.