Myth-busting is a big mythtake

Counter-intuitive, but very congruent with human nature …

Andrew Munro's Blog

We all know the form.  And it’s tempting, isn’t it?

(Stupid) People say this…

… but the truth is this…”

The problem is that your audience are more likely to remember the myth that you’ve restated as being true and not the myth-busting evidence that you’ve laid before them.

In his book Language Intelligence, Joseph Romm gives a classic example:

“When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a flier to debunk myths about the flu vaccine, it repeated several of the myths … and labelled them as false.  A study of people give the flier found that ‘within 30 minutes, older people misremembered 28 per cent of the false statements as true.’  Worse, ‘three days later, they remembered 40 per cent of the myths as factual.”

Examples abound:

  • Microsoft regularly use the tactic – and, if I’m honest, I can remember (maybe ten years ago) approving…

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