Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Truth May Not Set Us Free

It is a myth, George Lakoff suggests, that "the truth will set us free. If we just tell people the facts, since people are basically rational beings, they'll all reach the right conclusion." He proceeds to shatter this myth by explaining:
"But we know from cognitive science that people do not think like that. People think in frames...To be accepted, the truth must fit people's frames. If the facts do not fit a frame, the frame stays and the facts bounce off. Why?
Neuroscience tells us that each of the concepts we have - the long term concepts that structure how we think - is instantiated in the synapses of our brains. Concepts are not things that can be changed just by someone telling us a fact. We may be presented with facts, but for us to make sense of them, they have to fit what is already in the synapses of the brain. Otherwise facts go in and then they go right back out. They are not heard, or they are not accepted as facts, or they mystify us: Why would anyone have said that? Then we label the fact as irrational, crazy or stupid. [pg 17].
I think this thesis can be applied, in general, to explain how people react differently to the same event. However, my question is, where do these frames come from? How do they develop? How do they change? Which conditions are favorable for their change and which conditions are not? How can we study what a person's frame is? Are frames generic or are they content-specific?

No comments:

Post a Comment