GOOD NICK: I assume you are referring to the study last year published in the “Journal Science” by Kevin B Smith. It suggested a link between the positions people hold on such controversial issues as gun control, pacifism and capital punishment with their reaction to disturbing images and startling sounds.
EVIL NICK: Yah, that’s the one. They measured perspiration and eye reaction and found that conservatives are three times more afraid of stuff then progressives. Damn pantywaists. Every little thing in the world sends then running for the covers.
GOOD NICK: Now it’s not right to draw such broad conclusions from those tests. Only 46 people were studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the study was just preliminary. Besides, all the subjects were drawn from one small Midwest town, hardly definitive. If we were talking about a study supporting some homeopathic drug, you would be the first one to point out that the study was just “preliminary” and in science a “preliminary study” only means that more research might be warranted.
EVIL NICK: Oh come on, who are you kidding. You know conservatives are a bunch of frightened wing nuts. Look at the “birthers,” right wing flakes who think President Obama wasn’t born in the US. This, despite the fact that his certificate of birth and birth announcement from Hawaiian newspapers have been posted on line and have been examined by independent sources and the republican governor of Hawaii. The real scary thing about this is that the conspiracy wackjobs that are still talking about this are Republican Senators.
GOOD NICK: I told you not to bring up the “birther controversy.” You know that studies show that when you talk about a phony controversy, even if just to thoroughly discredit it, people walk away just remembering that there was “some controversy.” They don’t remember that it was debunked. That’s why Phil Donahue, and legitimate news organizations stopped giving airtime to Nazis and the KKK back in the seventies. It legitimizes the crackpots.
EVIL NICK: you mean like that study conducted by University of Michigan that presented people with false claims, clearly labeled as such. Three days later researchers asked those same people about the claims and found that 40 percent of them remembered the false claims as true, even though they were originally clearly identified as false.
GOOD NICK: Yes. That’s why you shouldn’t even acknowledge people when they are repeating lies, even if it is just to debunk them. Wait a second, unless you were just using the “birther controversy” as an excuse to talk about those studies, giving you yet another opportunity to write about critical thinking.
EVIL NICK: how do you know I wasn’t?
GOOD NICK: Well played.