• Martin Gagnon

I did not leave the toilet seat up

I did not leave the toilet seat up. I did not leave the toilet seat up. Do you think my wife believes me yet? Maybe I didn’t repeat it enough. And if she doesn't believe me this is where I would be.

Believe it or not repetition plays a big factor in what we believe to be true. Today, the “illusory truth effect” is a huge contributor to the spread of fake news.

First published in a 1977 study by Lynn Hasher, David Goldstein, and Thomas Toppino, the “illusory truth effect” is our tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure. In other words, the more someone hears your message, the more believable it is. Think advertising or political campaign slogans. There is a reason that Maxwell House has used the slogan “good to the last drop” for 97 years. While some would say it is a statement of truth, few would critically drink the last drop and ask themselves if it was indeed good.

The effect is perhaps best summed up with this quote by Harry S. Truman.

“The dictators of the world say that if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it.”


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