Comedian Adam Conover ruins everything. No really, that’s the name of his TV show. He presents depressing facts about things we all thought were perfectly fine. (Example: You like avocados, right? Turns out buying Mexican avocados supports drug cartels.)
Adam is the type of guy with an intense desire to find the truth – and to tell everyone about it – whether or not they asked. He also has A LOT of opinions about food.
In other words, Dan may have found his soul mate.
This week, Adam debunks the benefits of vitamin supplements, the importance of breakfast, and bacon. You’ll also hear him sift fact from fiction on his new podcast, Factually with Adam Conover.
Clearly, Adam loves debunking myths. But is he changing peoples’ minds? What happens when someone challenges a belief that’s a big part of one's identity?
Adam and Dan probe that question in a discussion about confirmation bias. It’s the idea that we all tend to believe information that confirms our preexisting opinions. We seek out news sources that tell us we’re right, and when facts come along that contradict our opinions, we tend not to believe them. Most people, when confronted with a fact proving them wrong, tend to dig their heels in deeper and believe the wrong idea more. It's called the backfire effect.
What's that, you think you're too smart to fall prey to the backfire effect? And the mere mention of it only makes you more sure you don't do it? Well you just proved our point.
Adam and Dan chat about their own confirmation biases, gender roles in the kitchen, and along the way, hit on celebrated foods they enjoy making, like Adam's favorite no-knead bread.
UPDATE (5/23/19): In this episode we talk about the backfire effect -- the idea that when people are confronted with facts that contradict their opinions, they tend to believe those incorrect opinions MORE. As it turns out, researchers have been unable to replicate the backfire effect in later studies -- so it may not be true. But confirmation bias is still very much real. So it's still the case that we tend to more readily believe information that confirms our preexisting opinions, while being more skeptical of anything that tells us we're wrong. So the essence of Adam and Dan's conversation holds up. Thanks to listener Alexios Mantzarlis for pointing this out.
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Interstitial music in this show by Black Label Music:
- "Stacks" by Erick Anderson
- "Cracker Jack" by Ken Brahmstedt
- "Soul Good" by Lance Conrad
- "Give It Up" by Stephen Clinton Sullivan
- "Party Hop" by Jack Ventimiglia
Photo courtesy of Adam Conover.