Government shells out $50K for philosopher’s bizarre study on Fox News


Under the Trump Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is giving over $50,000 to a project which seeks to prove that watching Fox News can brainwash liberals. Titled, “Propaganda and Belief in the Modern World,” the project is a book-length study on the “psychology of belief formation” by Eric Mandelbaum, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

According to Mandelbaum, “one can end up believing anything,” and he reportedly believes liberals can be ‘brainwashed’ by Fox News.

“We seem to acquire beliefs with the ease with which we catch colds, yet we also seem to learn nothing,” he states.

From The Beacon:

Mandelbaum coauthored a paper in 2015, entitled, “Believing without Reason, or: Why Liberals Shouldn’t Watch Fox News.” In his beginning section, “Believing Badly,” Mandelbaum lists believing in God as one of several “odd beliefs” Americans hold.

“As of May 2014, 22-28 [percent] of Americans believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally word for word,” Mandelbaum emphasizes.

“People hold shockingly irrational beliefs,” he writes.

On his website, Mandelbaum writes: “How can human beings, seemingly the smartest animals ever encountered, be so freaking dumb?”

Mandelbaum also says the news feed crawl at Fox News can unconsciously influence viewers.

“[I]f the evidence previously discussed is correct, then merely attending to some element of the scene (e.g., the crawl) while suppressing attention to the others will induce load and trigger an unconscious passive acceptance of whatever you read, whether or not you consider the source to be credible,” Mandelbaum explains.

“The reluctant liberal Fox News viewer, then, will not merely unwillingly accept information (e.g.,) embedded in the crawl, but will integrate that information with other previously held beliefs,” he continues.

Mandenaum says the information is acquired, then, not by evidence, but instead its unconsciously “integrated into the subject’s future decisions and attitudes, unbeknownst to her and despite her better judgment.”

Once “parsed and understood,” Manenbaulm claims, the report “lies ‘sleeping’ in central cognition,” and even if one tells themselves the information is incorrect, it is forever “stretching its inferential tentacles outward.”

“When you combine brute-causal belief acquisition with the constant attentional and behavioral regulation that we engage in, one can end up believing anything,” Mandelbaum concludes.

There was no report as to where Mandelbaum gets his news, or whether he finds any other crawls or news sources to be influential enough to have affected his own beliefs.

Mandelbaum, described as a “philosopher and cognitive scientist,” is with the City University of New York.

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