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“宁可信其有”



我们翻译这篇文章的理由


“只要真相的复杂性超出了一些人的理解能力,阴谋论就永远有市场。”

——刘蕊


👇


“宁可信其有”


作者:Hugo Mercier 

译者:刘  蕊 & 唐  萧

校对:刘  蕊 & 唐  萧

策划:邓舒丹 & 唐 萧


People Are Less Gullible Than You Think
“宁可信其有”

By default we veer on the side of being resistant to new ideas.
默认情况下,我们在即将抵制新的想法时,会及时刹车。

Look at all the gibberish people believe. That the earth is a flat disk surrounded by a 200-foot wall of ice. That high-up Democratic operatives run a pedophile ring out of a pizza joint. That former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could teleport and control the weather. Who could doubt that human beings are gullible, that we accept whatever we read or hear?

瞧瞧人们都胡言乱语说了些什么。地球是一个扁平的圆盘,被200英尺的冰墙包围着。民主党领导人在披萨店里有一个恋童癖窝藏点。朝鲜前领导人金正日能够传送和控制天气。谁能想到人类如此容易上当受骗,轻而易举地就相信了自己的所见所闻?


Yet these beliefs are the exception rather than the rule. By and large, we don’t credulously accept whatever we’re told. We have evolved specialized cognitive mechanisms to deal with both the benefits and the dangers of communication. If anything, we’re too hard rather than too easy to influence.

不过,上述提到的这些只能算是例外,而非普遍现象。总得来说,我们不会轻易相信任何他人的言论。我们已经进化出了独特的认知机制,来处理交流所带来的好处和危害。不管发生了什么,我们都不会为之所动。


One popular, but wrong, way of thinking about those cognitive mechanisms is to imagine them as the result of an arms race: Manipulators evolve increasingly sophisticated means of misleading receivers, and receivers evolve increasingly sophisticated means of rejecting manipulators’ unreliable messages. This is what we get, for instance, with computer viruses and security software.

对于这些认知机制,有一种流行却错误的思考方式,那就是把它们想象成了军备竞赛的结果:操控者进化出越来越复杂的误导手段,误导受控者;受控者进化出越来越复杂的拒绝手段,拒绝操控者的不可靠信息。瞧瞧电脑病毒和安全软件,不正是这么回事儿。


The arms race model leads to an association between gullibility and lack of mental acuity. When receivers, because they are exhausted or distracted, cannot use properly their most refined cognitive mechanisms, they’re allegedly defenseless against the manipulators’ more advanced cognitive devices—much as a security software system that hasn’t been updated leaves a computer vulnerable to attacks.

军备竞赛模型使得轻信和缺乏警惕之间出现了某种联系。据说,当受控者因为筋疲力尽或注意力分散而无法适当地运用自己最精良的认知机制时,他们对操控者更加先进的认知设备也就毫无防备,就像没有更新过的安全软件系统会让电脑容易受到攻击一样。


That’s the perception. But it isn’t how our minds work at all.

这就是认知,但我们的大脑根本不是这样运作的。


Brainwashers and Hidden Persuaders

洗脑者和看不见的劝说者


Thousands of U.S. soldiers were captured during the Korean War. Those who managed to escape brought back tales of horrible mistreatment and torture, from sleep deprivation to waterboarding. When the war ended and the prisoners of war were repatriated, these mistreatments acquired an even darker meaning. Not simply an example of the enemy’s wanton cruelty, they were seen as an attempt to brainwash U.S. soldiers into accepting communist doctrine. Twenty-three American POWs chose to follow their captors to China instead of going back to their homeland. This, The New York Times stated at the time, was surely “living proof that Communist brainwashing does work on some persons.”

成千上万的美国士兵在朝鲜战争中被俘。那些成功逃脱了的人,带回了可怕的关于虐待和折磨的故事,从剥夺睡眠到水刑。战争结束后,战俘被遣返,这些故事就有了更加阴暗的含义。它们不仅仅是敌人肆意虐待折磨的明证,更被视为是敌人用来洗脑美国士兵接受共产主义信条的工具。23名美国战俘选择跟随俘获他们的人前往中国,而不是回到自己的祖国。当时《纽约时报》指出,这无疑活生生地证明了“共产主义确实能洗脑某些人”。


Brainwashing supposedly functioned by shattering people’s ability for higher reflection, through “conditioning,” “debilitation,” and “dissociation-hypnosis-suggestibility.” In the 1950s, the idea that people are more easily influenced when they cannot think also showed up in a very different context. In the midst of a movie, it was feared, messages such as “drink Coke,” flashed too quickly to be consciously perceived, would make people want to buy a can of Coke. Such messages would soon be called subliminal, meaning “below the threshold”—in this case, the threshold of awareness.

据说,洗脑是通过“设定条件”、“削弱”和“分离-催眠-暗示”来粉碎人们的高级反射能力。在20世纪50年代,“人们在无法思考的时候更容易受到影响”这个观点也出现在了一个非常不同的背景下。人们担心,在电影播放的过程中,即使“喝可乐”这样的暗示信息只是闪动出现了一下,人们可能根本没有意识到,但它还是会让人想要买罐可乐。很快,这样的信息被称为是“潜意识”,即“低于某种阈值”——这里指的是意识的阈值。


The scares surrounding brainwashing and subliminal influence rely on a pervasive association between inferior cognitive ability and gullibility: The less we think, it’s assumed, the worse we think, and the easier to influence we are.

人们之所以害怕洗脑和潜意识影响,是因为低认知能力和轻信之间存在着一种普遍的联系:人们认为,我们想的越少,就越容易想那些糟糕的事,也就越容易受到影响。


This idea is historically pervasive, and it is often linked to the idea that some populations are better cognitively equipped than others. In the 19th century, the psychologist Gustave Le Bon suggested that crowds shared the “absence…of critical thought…observed in beings belonging to inferior forms of evolution, such as women, savages, and children.” (In a striking illustration of motivated reasoning, Le Bon’s colleague Gabriel Tarde claimed that because of its “docility, its credulity…the crowd is feminine”—even when “it is composed, as is usually the case, of males.”) In the 21st century, we still find echoes of these unsavory associations, as when Brexiters are dismissed as uneducated plebs. 

这个观点在历史上相当常见,它通常与另一个观点相关联,即人的认知能力是有高低之分的。在19世纪,心理学家古斯塔夫·勒庞提出,群体也有“缺乏批判思维的时候,在低等进化形式的生物——女人、奴隶和动物身上可以观察到。” (动机性推理最显著的一个例子就是勒庞的同事加布里埃尔•塔德声称,由于这个群体“温顺、轻信,所以这是一个女性化的群体”——即使“通常来说,这样的群体是由男性组成的。”)在21世纪,这些令人不悦的关联仍然随处可见,例如脱欧派就被视为未受过教育的平民。


In the contemporary academic literature, the link between unsophistication and credulity takes the form of dividing thought processes into two types, called System 1 and System 2. According to this view—long established in psychology and recently popularized by Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book, Thinking, Fast and Slow—some cognitive processes are fast, effortless, and largely unconscious. These, which belong to System 1, include reading a simple text, forming a first impression of someone, and navigating well-known streets. These intuitions are on the whole effective, the theory goes, yet they are also susceptible to systematic biases. For instance, we seem to judge a person’s competence or trustworthiness on the basis of facial traits. Such judgments may have some limited reliability, but they should be superseded by stronger cues, such as how the person actually behaves.

在当代学术文献中,天真和轻信之间的联系通过对两种思维过程,即系统一和系统二的划分中体现出来。这个理论在心理学领域已经有很悠久的历史,并且最近因为丹尼尔·卡尼曼2011年出版的《快慢思想》而流行了起来。该理论指出,有的认知过程是快速的、毫不费力的,且很大程度上是无意识的。系统一包括阅读简单的文本,对某人的第一印象,穿梭于熟悉的街道。该理论认为,这些直觉总体上是有效的,但同时也容易受到系统性偏见的影响。例如,我们会根据某人的面部特征来判断这个人的能力或可信度。这些判断可能是可靠的,但这种可靠性是有限的,它们应该被更可靠的线索所取代,比如说这个人的实际行为。


System 2 relies on slow, effortful, reflective processes. It takes over when System 1 fails, correcting our mistaken intuitions with its more objective processes and more rational rules. If System 1 consists of rough-and-ready mechanisms and System 2 consists of deliberate reflection, we might expect System 1 to be associated with credulity and System 2 with critical thinking.

系统二依赖于缓慢、费力、不断反思的过程。当系统一出问题了,系统二就会接手,用更客观的过程和更理智的规则来纠正那些错误的直觉。如果说系统一是由粗糙却有效的机制构成的,而系统二是由深思熟虑的反思构成的话,我们或许会认为系统一和轻信有关,而系统二和批判思维有关。


Psychologist Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues performed an ingenious series of experiments to tease out the roles the two mental systems play in evaluating communicated information. Participants were presented with a series of statements; right after each one, they were told whether it was true or false. In one experiment, the statements were about words in Hopi, so participants might be told “a ghoren is a jug” and, a second later, told “true.” After all the statements had been presented, participants were asked which had been true and which had been false. To test for the role played by the two systems, Gilbert and his colleagues intermittently interrupted System 2 processing. System 2, being slow and effortful, is seen as easily interfered with. In this case, participants were asked to press a button when they heard a tone, which tended to ring when the crucial information—whether a given statement was true or false—was being delivered.

心理学家丹尼尔·吉尔伯特和他的同事们进行了一系列精妙的实验,想要弄明白这两个心理系统在评估交流信息时所扮演的角色。他们向实验对象展示了一系列的陈述,每次展示结束后,都会告诉实验对象这个陈述是对的还是错的。其中一个实验里,陈述的内容是用霍皮语写的,实验对象可能被告知“戈伦是一只大罐”,一秒后,又被告知这个陈述是对的。在所有陈述展示结束后,实验对象会被问到哪些陈述是对的,哪些是错的。为了测试这两个系统所扮演的角色,吉尔伯特和他的同事们间歇地干扰系统二的处理。系统二缓慢且费力,是很容易受到干扰的。在这个情况下,实验对象被要求在听到某个声音后按下按钮,而这个声音往往会在关键信息——无论给定的陈述是对是错——传递的时候响起。


When it came time to recall which statements were true and which were false, people whose System 2 had been disrupted were more likely to believe the statements to be true, irrespective of whether they had been signaled as true or false. These experiments led Gilbert and his colleagues to conclude that our initial inclination is to accept what we are told, and that the slightest disruption to System 2 stops us from reconsidering this initial acceptance. In Kahneman’s words, “When System 2 is otherwise engaged, we will believe almost anything. System 1 is gullible and biased to believe, System 2 is in charge of doubting and unbelieving, but System 2 is sometimes busy, and often lazy.”

当要回忆哪个陈述是对的、哪个陈述是错的时候,那些系统二被打乱了的人更有可能相信这些陈述是对的,无论它们最初被标定为对还是错。这些实验使得吉尔伯特和同事们得出结论:起初,我们倾向于接受别人告诉我们的任何信息,而系统二哪怕受到的是最轻微的干扰,这种干扰也会阻止我们重新思考这个最初接受的信息。用卡尼曼的话来说:“当系统二受到了干扰,我们几乎会相信任何事情。系统一轻信且有偏见,系统二负责质疑和不相信,但有的时候,系统二实在是太忙了,而且常常犯懒。”


As Gilbert and his colleagues put it in the title of their second article on the topic: “You Can’t Not Believe Everything You Read.”

正如吉尔伯特和同事们在该话题第二篇文章标题中所写:“你不能相信你所读到的一切”。


I Hope You Did Not Believe Everything You Just Read

希望你千万不要相信你刚刚读到的这一切


The arms race analogy may be intuitively appealing, but it doesn’t fit the broad pattern of the evolution of human communication. In arms races, a parallel escalation tends to preserve the status quo. The United States and the Soviet Union acquired increasingly large nuclear arsenals, but neither nation gained the upper hand. Security software hasn’t wiped out computer viruses, but the viruses haven’t taken over all computers either.

直觉上来看,上述军备竞赛的类比可能很吸引人,但它并不符合人类交流进化的普遍模式。在军备竞赛中,平行的提升会使得现状得以维持。美国和苏联掌控了越来越多的核武器库,但两个国家都没有占上风。安全软件并没有消灭电脑病毒,但病毒也没有控制所有的电脑。


Human communication, fortunately, is very different. Think of how much information was exchanged by our pre-human ancestors—or, as an approximation, by our closest nonhuman relatives alive today. Clearly, we have ventured very far from that status quo. We send and consume orders of magnitude more information than any other primate, and we are vastly more influenced by the information we receive. The bandwidth of our communication has dramatically expanded. We discuss events that are distant in time and space; we express our deepest feelings; we even debate abstract entities and tell stories about imaginary beings.

幸运的是,人类之间的交流是非常不同的。想想我们的前人类祖先曾交换过多少信息,又或者大致估算下,今天这些活着的非人动物彼此之间又交换了多少信息。显然,我们早已超越了当时的状况。我们发送和消耗的信息,其数量级远超过任何其他灵长类动物,我们也更容易受到所接受信息的影响。通信宽带大大增强,交流不再受到时空的限制。我们表达自己最深刻的情感,甚至讨论抽象的实体,述说虚构的故事。


A better analogy than the arms race is the evolution of omnivorous diets.

比军备竞赛更好的类比是杂食性饮食习惯的进化。


Some animals have evolved extraordinarily specific diets. Koalas eat only eucalyptus leaves, and they will not eat a eucalyptus leaf if it isn’t properly presented—if it is on a flat surface, for example, rather than attached to the branch of a eucalyptus tree. This strategy can backfire if such animals find themselves in a new environment.

有的动物进化出了极为特殊的饮食习惯。比如说考拉只吃桉树叶,而且,如果桉树叶的呈现方式不对的话——比如放在平坦的表面上,而不是长在树上,那么考拉是不会吃的。如果这些动物身处新环境当中,那么这样的饮食习惯只会起到反作用。


Omnivorous animals are both more open and more vigilant. Rats and humans need more than 30 different nutrients, and none of their food sources can provide all of those at once. They have to be much more open in the range of foods they’re willing to sample. Indeed, rats or humans will try just about anything that looks edible.

杂食性动物更加开放,也更加警觉。老鼠和人类需要三十多种不同的营养物质,但没有哪一种食物能同时提供所有的营养物质。因此,老鼠和人类必须尽可能地尝试所有愿意尝试的食物。实际上,任何看起来可以吃的东西他们都愿意去尝尝。


This openness makes omnivores fantastically adaptable. Human beings have been able to survive on diets made up almost exclusively of milk and potatoes (early 18th century Irish peasants) or meat and fish (the Inuit until recently). But their openness also makes omnivores vulnerable. Meat can go bad, and most plants are either toxic or hard to digest. As a result, omnivores are also much more vigilant toward their food than specialists. Using a variety of strategies, they learn how to avoid foods that are likely to have undesirable side effects.

这种开放性使得杂食性动物具有惊人的适应能力。人类单单靠着牛奶和土豆(18世纪早期的爱尔兰农民)或者肉和鱼(因纽特人在过去很长一段时间里都是如此)就能生存下来。但是,这种开放性也让杂食性动物变得相当脆弱。肉会变质,大多数植物要么有毒,要么难以消化。因此,杂食性动物对事物的警惕心比专家更甚。他们通过各种方式学会了如何避免那些可能有不良副作用的食物。


In terms of communication, the difference between human beings and other primates is similar to the difference between omnivores and specialists. Nonhuman primates mostly rely on specific signals. Vervet monkeys have a dedicated alarm call for aerial predators; chimpanzees smile in a way that signals submission; dominant baboons grunt to show their pacific intentions before approaching lower-ranking individuals. But humans can communicate about nearly anything they can conceive of.

在交流方面,人类和其他灵长类动物之间的区别就好比杂食性动物和专家之间的区别。非人灵长类动物主要依靠特定信号。长尾猴对于空中的捕食者有特定的警报喊声;黑猩猩的微笑代表着服从;在接近地位较低的狒狒前,占统治地位的狒狒会发出咕噜声来示好。而人类可以就任何他们能想到的事情展开交流。


People are thus vastly more open than other primates. Take something as basic as pointing. Human babies understand pointing shortly after they reach their first year. Adult chimpanzees, even in situations in which pointing seems obvious to us, do not get it.

因此,人类比其他灵长类动物要开放的多。举个简单的例子:“指向”。人类婴儿在一岁左右的时候就能明白“指向”指的是哪儿。而对于成年黑猩猩来说,即使这个“指向”再直接明了,他们还是不会明白。


If we are vastly more open to different forms and contents of communication than other primates, we should also be more vigilant.

如果我们相较其他灵长类动物在不同的交流形式和内容上更加开放,那么我们也应该更加警惕。


According to the arms race theory, we have evolved from a situation of extreme openness—of general gullibility—toward a state of increasingly sophisticated vigilance made possible by our more recently developed cognitive machinery. If this machinery were removed, the theory goes, we would revert to our previous state and be more likely to accept any message, however stupid or harmful.

根据军备竞赛理论,我们已经从极度开放的状态——容易受骗的状态——进化到了越来越复杂的警惕状态,这种状态得益于最近发展起来的认知机制。该理论认为,如果这种机制被移除,那么我们就会倒回到以前的状态,并且有可能变得更加轻信,无论信息多么愚蠢或者有害,我们都照单全收。


The analogy with the evolution of omnivorous diets suggests the reverse is true. We have evolved from a situation of extreme conservatism, a situation in which we let only a restricted set of signals affect us, toward a situation in which we are more vigilant but also more open to different forms and contents of communication. This organization, in which increased sophistication goes with increased openness, makes for much more robust overall functioning.

杂食性饮食习惯进化的类比则指出,事实恰恰相反。我们已经从极度保守的状态——只让有限的信号影响自己,进化到了越来越警惕,同时对于不同的交流形式和内容也越来越开放的状态。这种越来越复杂同时也越来越开放的机制使得整体功能更加健全。


In the arms race view, disruption of the more sophisticated mechanisms makes us credulous and vulnerable. Things look different if openness and vigilance evolved hand in hand. If our more recent and sophisticated cognitive machinery is disrupted, we revert to our conservative core, becoming not more gullible but more stubborn.

从军备竞赛的角度来看,更加复杂的机制如果受到了干扰,会使得我们变得轻信和脆弱。但是,如果开放和警惕携手并进的话,那么情况就不一样了。这种最近才有的、复杂的认知机制一旦收到了干扰,我们就会回归到保守的状态,不但不会轻信,反而会变得更加顽固。 


Brainwashing Does Not Wash

洗脑不“洗”脑


If disrupting our higher cognitive abilities, or bypassing them altogether, were an effective means of influence, then both brainwashing and subliminal stimuli should leave us helpless, gullibly accepting the virtues of communism and thirsting for Coca-Cola. But in fact, both persuasion techniques are staggeringly ineffective.

如果说破坏我们更高的认知能力,或者完全绕过它们能够有效地影响我们,那么洗脑和潜意识刺激则都会让我们无助。我们将极易认可共产主义,并对可口可乐产生依赖。但事实上,这两种手段的效果都是惊人地微小。


Consider those 23 American POWs who defected to China. This is already a rather pitiful success rate: 23 converts out of about 4,400 captive soldiers, or half a percent. But in fact, the number of genuine converts was likely zero. The soldiers who defected were afraid of what awaited them in the United States. To gain some favors in the camps, they had collaborated with their Chinese captors—or at least had not shown as much defiance as their fellow prisoners. As a result, they could expect to be court-martialed upon their return. Indeed, among the POWs who returned to the United States, one was sentenced to 10 years in jail, while prosecutors sought the death penalty for another.

想想向中国投降的那23个美国战俘吧。这个概率其实已经相当低了:在大约4400名被俘士兵中,只有23人投降,占总数的0.5%。而且事实上,这个数字可能为零。“叛国”的士兵为一旦回到美国将面临的境地而担忧。为了在战俘营里得到一些好处,他们与中国士兵勾结,或者至少没有像同狱的犯人那样表现出反抗。因此,他们可能会在回国后被送上军事法庭。确实,在返回美国的战俘中,有一人被判处10年监禁,另有一人检察官申请判处死刑。


Compared with that, being fêted as a convert to the Chinese system did not seem so bad, even if it meant paying lip service to Communist doctrine—a doctrine the prisoners likely barely grasped.

相比之下,成为被中国制度“感化”的人似乎还能获得好一点的待遇,即使这意味着对共产主义这种他们可能根本不理解的东西进行口头支持。


More recently, methods derived from brainwashing, such as “enhanced interrogation techniques” that rely on physical constraints, sleep deprivation, and other attempts at numbing the suspects’ minds, have been used by U.S. forces in the war on terror. Like brainwashing, these techniques are much less effective than softer methods that make full use of the suspects’ higher cognition—methods in which the interrogator builds trust and engages the subject in discussion.

最近,美国军队在反恐战争中使用了类似于洗脑的方法,例如“强化审讯手段”。这些手段包括身体限制、睡眠剥夺和其他麻痹嫌疑人的方法等。正如洗脑一样,它们远不如充分利用嫌疑人较高的认知能力的迂回方式有效——即审讯者在谈话中建立信任并参与讨论的方法。


Similarly, the fear of subliminal influence and unconscious mind control turned out to be unfounded. The early experiments allegedly demonstrating the power of subliminal stimuli were simply made up: No one had displayed a subliminal “drink Coke” ad in a movie theater. A wealth of subsequent (real) experiments have failed to show that subliminal stimuli exert any meaningful influence on our behavior. Even if it were flashed on a screen, the message “drink Coke” would not make us more likely to drink Coca-Cola.

类似地,人会对潜意识影响和潜意识控制产生恐惧这一想法也是毫无根据的。早期的实验声称证明了潜意识刺激的力量,但那些实验都是捏造出来的:从未有人在电影院里投放过暗示人们“喝可乐”的广告。随后,大量的真实实验均未表明潜意识刺激会对我们的行为产生任何有意义的影响。即使它在屏幕上闪现,“喝可乐”的信息也不会让我们产生更多喝可口可乐的冲动。


What about the experiments conducted by Gilbert and his colleagues? They did show that some statements (such as “a ghoren is a jug”) are spontaneously accepted and need some effort to be rejected. But that doesn’t mean that System 1 accepts “everything we read,” as Gilbert put it. If participants have some background knowledge related to the statement, this background knowledge directs their initial reaction. For instance, people’s initial reaction to statements such as “soft soap is edible” is rejection. The statements don’t even have to be obviously false to be intuitively disbelieved. They simply have to have some relevance if they are false. It is not very helpful to know that, in Hopi, it’s false that “a ghoren is a jug.” By contrast, if you learn that the statement “John is a liberal” is false, it tells you something useful about John.

吉尔伯特和同事们做的实验结果又是如何呢?的确,研究结果表明,人们对有些陈述(如“戈伦是一只大罐”)是自发接受的,拒绝是需要一些努力的。但这并不意味着系统一就像吉尔伯特所说的那样,接收“我们所读的一切”。如果参与者有一些与该陈述有关的背景知识,那么这种背景知识可以指导他们的初步反应。例如,人们对“液体肥皂是可食用的”这一说法的最初反应是拒绝。而甚至看起来没那么假的陈述,人们也会直觉性地认为它是假的。如果它是假的,它就必须有一定的相关性。在霍皮语中,知道“戈伦是一只大罐”这个信息是错的,并没有多大的意义。相反,如果你知道“约翰是个自由主义者”这个说法是错误的,那倒是会告诉你关于约翰的一些有用信息。


When exposed to statements such as “John is a liberal,” people’s intuitive reaction is to adopt a stance of doubt rather than acceptance. Far from being “gullible and biased to believe,” System 1 is, if anything, biased to reject messages incompatible with our background beliefs, or even merely ambiguous messages. This includes many messages that happen to be true.

当接触到诸如“约翰是个自由主义者”这样的陈述时,人们的直觉反应是采取怀疑而不是接受的态度。系统一绝不是“易受欺骗和偏向于相信”,就算有这种倾向 ,它也是偏向于拒绝与我们的背景知识不符的信息,甚至仅仅是含糊不清的信息。其中也恰好包括许多真实的信息。


How To Be Wrong Without Being Gullible

不易受骗却上贼船?


If the success of mass persuasion is, more often than not, a figment of the popular imagination, the dissemination of empirically dubious beliefs is not. We all have, at some point in our lives, endorsed one type of misconception or another. People believe everything from wild rumors about politicians to claims about the dangers of vaccination. Yet this is not necessarily a symptom of gullibility.

如果说能够成功说服大众往往是大家的一种误解,那么对经验性的可疑信念进行传播则不是。在我们生活的某一时刻,我们都赞成过某种误解。人们相信一切,从关于政客的谣言到关于接种疫苗危险的说法。然而,这并不一定代表着人们容易上当受骗。


The spread of most misconceptions is explained more by their intuitively appealing content than by the skills of those who propound them. Vaccine hesitancy surfs on the counter-intuitiveness of vaccination. Conspiracy theories depend on our justified fear of powerful enemy coalitions. Even flat-Earthers argue that you just have to follow your intuition when you look at the horizon and fail to see any curvature.

大多数错误观念的传播更多地是由于它们具有一看就很吸引人的内容,而不是因为那些鼓吹它们的人有多厉害。人们对疫苗的怀疑心理是由对接种疫苗直觉性的反对引起的。阴谋理论依赖于我们对强大敌人的正当恐惧。即使是相信地平论的人也认为,当你看着地平线却看不到任何曲面时,只需要跟随你的直觉就行了。


Yet even though many misconceptions have an intuitive dimension, most remain cut off from the rest of our cognition: They are reflective beliefs with little consequences for our other thoughts and limited effects on our actions. 9/11 truthers might believe the CIA is powerful enough to take down the World Trade Center, but they’re not afraid it could easily silence a blabbing blogger. Most of those who accused Hillary Clinton’s aides of pedophilia were content with leaving one-star reviews of the restaurant in which the children were supposedly abused. Even forcefully held religious or scientific beliefs, from God’s omniscience to relativity theory, do not deeply affect how we think: Christians still act as if God were an agent who could only pay attention to one thing at a time, and physicists can barely intuit the relationship between time and speed dictated by Einstein’s theories.

然而,尽管许多误解都具有直觉层面的东西,但大多数仍然与我们的其他认知隔绝:它们是对事件的反应,对我们的其他想法没有什么影响,也不会干扰我们的行动。9.11真相运动的拥护者也许会相信中央情报局(CIA)有足够的力量摧毁世贸中心,但他们并不担心这能让一个爱唠叨的博主安静下来。大多数指责希拉里·克林顿的助手有恋童癖的人都对在孩子们受到侵犯的那家餐厅留下一星评价感到满意。而就算持有坚定的宗教或科学信仰——无论是信奉上帝无所不知或是相对论,也不会对我们的思想产生深刻的影响:从基督教教徒的行为来看,仿佛上帝是一位代理人,一次只能关注一件事,而物理学家几乎无法凭直觉发现爱因斯坦理论中时间和速度的关系。


Sometimes, belief and action, even costly action, do go hand in hand: Rumors of atrocities committed by the local minority are followed by attacks on that minority; bogus medical theories lead to harmful medical practices; excessive flattery of a ruler results in obedience to the ruler’s regime. But by and large, the beliefs follow the behavior rather than the other way around. People who want to attack the minority group look for the moral high ground. Quack doctors like their therapies to be backed up by theories. The political conditions that make it a smart move to obey an autocrat also encourage sycophancy.

有时,信仰和行动,甚至是代价高昂的行动,确实是齐头并进的:有传言当地少数群体犯下了暴行,随之而来就将是对该少数群体的攻击;伪医学理论会带来有害的医学实践;对统治者过分的奉承导致服从统治者的政权。但总的来说,是信仰在遵循行为而非行为在遵循信仰。想要攻击少数群体的人总会寻求道德上的优势。江湖游医总喜欢用理论来支持论证他们的治疗方法。同时,令服从独裁者成为明智举动的政治环境也鼓励了曲意逢迎。


This even applies to the misconception I’m criticizing in this article: The idea that people are gullible provides post hoc rationalizations for actions or ideas that have other motivations. Until the Enlightenment, scholarly claims of uneven credulity were routinely used to justify an iniquitous status quo—mostly by people who benefited from that status quo. The masses, these scholars insisted, couldn’t be trusted with political power, as they would be promptly manipulated by cunning demagogues bent on wrecking the social order. Scholars on the other side of the political spectrum, who defended the people’s right to a political voice, also asserted widespread gullibility—which helped them explain why the population hadn’t already revolted (or, more generally, why people so often make the “wrong” political choices).

这甚至适用于我在这篇文章中所批评的错误观念:“人们容易被欺骗”这一观点为暗含其他动机的行动或思想提供了事后的合理化。在启蒙运动之前,学者认为轻信是不公平的,而这一点常被用来为不公正的现状正名——这么做的人通常是从这种现状中获益的那些人。这些学者坚持认为,不能放心地给予民众以政治权力,因为他们会被一心想破坏社会秩序的狡猾的煽动者迅速操纵。与这些学者持有完全相反的政治立场的专家支持民众发出自己的声音,但他们也认为,民众中存在普遍的轻信——这有助于他们解释为什么民众还没有反抗(或者更广泛地说,为什么人们常常做出“错误的”政治选择)。


We aren’t gullible: By default we veer on the side of being resistant to new ideas. In the absence of the right cues, we reject messages that don’t fit with our preconceived views or pre-existing plans. To persuade us otherwise takes long-established, carefully maintained trust, clearly demonstrated expertise, and sound arguments. Science, the media, and other institutions that spread accurate but often counterintuitive messages face an uphill battle, as they must transmit these messages and keep them credible along great chains of trust and argumentation. Quasi-miraculously, these chains connect us to the latest scientific discoveries and to events on the other side of the planet. We can only hope for new means of extending and strengthening these ever-fragile links. 

我们并不容易受骗:默认情况下,我们在即将抵制新的想法时,会及时刹车。在缺乏正确线索的情况下,我们拒绝接受与我们的现有看法或计划不符的信息。要说服我们,就需要长期存在、并得到精心维护的信任感,以及明确的专业性和合理的论据。科学、媒体和其他一些传播准确的、但往往是反直觉的信息的机构面临着一场艰苦的战斗,因为它们必须在巨大的信任链和争论链中传递这些信息并保持其可信度。难以置信地是,正是这些信任链和争论链把我们和最新的科学发现以及地球另一端的事件联系了起来。我们只能寄希望于出现新的手段来扩大和加强这些日益脆弱的联系。





  • 本文原载于 Reason

  • 原文链接:https://reason.com/2020/02/09/people-are-less-gullible-than-you-think/



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