“If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”
I have to remind myself of this over and over when I’m on social media or listening to the news, or viewing political ads. I have to move into my suspicious mode (not one I prefer), and be suspicious:
- if people or situations offer a large benefit for very little in return.
- if a story is working toward an emotional knee-jerk reaction rather than a well-researched plan of action.
- if any part of you thinks, “Could that really be true?”
But why do we really, really want to believe it?
Part of the reason is because of the way our brains process information–something called a fluency shortcut: any information that is easier to process is viewed positively in almost every way.
If we hear it and can pronounce it or if we hear it over and over again, the information is easier to recall. It also makes it easier to remember and repeat as “fact.”
These are just teasers. If you want to learn more about our brains’ fluency shortcut, check out this 4-minute read on a post entitled “How Your Brain Keeps You Believing Crap That Isn’t True,” by Bob Nesse.
We trust in assumptions about the way the world operates that seem so obviously true that we fail to test them.~ Bob Nesse
My advice: If it’s a flight or fight situation, run away now and evaluate later. Otherwise double-check the information that’s coming in to you brain. Ask questions. The truth will prevail.