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New research: Sitting down and correcting misinformation is effective at correcting misinformation

by Jeremy Hooper

New research is lending more evidence to what we've long known: that when it comes to changing hearts and minds in the direction of equal rights, there's no topping the efficacy and staying power of the in-person conversation. The New York Times reports:

Gay political canvassers can soften the opinions of voters opposed to same-sex marriage by having a brief face-to-face discussion about the issue, researchers reported Thursday.
The study, published Thursday by the journal Science, suggests that a 20-minute conversation about a controversial and personal issue — in this case a gay person talking to voters about same-sex marriage — can induce a change in attitude that not only lasts, but may also help shift the views of others living in the same household. In other words, the change may be contagious.
FULL: Messengers Found Able To Sway Votes On Marriage [NYT]

And the thing is, it doesn't really work the other way. The more you discuss equality and attach a human face to it, the more easily understandable it is. Discrimination is the opposite. The more you unpack the ideas that drive the other side, the more questions that are raised.

Why do you think the other side insists on talking about us rather than with us? Why do they repeat reductive talking points ad nauseam? Why do they work so hard to paint us as unfair operators by virtue of our participation alone? Why do you think the judiciary, where conversation is valued, is their least favorite branch? Easy: Because they know that theirs is a game of low information. They know the only reason they've gotten this far is because of their message discipline. They know that If they had sought out a dialogue from the get-go, this thing would've wrapped up in equality's favor a full decade ago. They live in fear of an honest and open debate because they know that frank discussion is a far bigger threat than anything a political consultant could ever dream up.

They know that face-to-face conversations will always win over their preferred course of talking about us behind our backs.

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