​Everyone knows someone who will always stick to their first impressions whatever the evidence is ​and the more evidence showing that they are wrong in their ‘assumptions” the harder they cling to them to the despair of those around them. This is particularly tough when it is related to a member of your team or group.

We all resist changing our beliefs about the world, but what happens when some of those beliefs are based on misinformation?

​Having lived I UAE for more than 20 years there a considerable number of ‘myths’​ related to our hosts known by many as – Locals, Nationals and Emeratis!  Interesting this first one as my parents are not accepted into their village in North Yorkshire UK by ‘the locals’ and are still considered ‘incomers’. This gives my endless amusement although most people don’t understand why!

Returning to my point many expats consider that ‘Emiratis’ are lazy and don’t work and don’t need to anyway……

This of course is not true but you cannot break it down whatever you do, say or demonstrate to them.

Is there a right way to correct someone when they believe something that’s wrong or just untrue?

‘’Stephen Lewandowsky and John Cook set out to review the science on this topic, and even carried out a few experiments of their own. This effort led to their “Debunker’s Handbook“, which gives practical, evidence-based techniques for correcting misinformation about, say, climate change or evolution or generalisations about whole nations.’’Their findings actually apply to any situation where you find the facts and reality are falling on deaf ears!

What is deeply disturbing about all of this is that ”​Backfire effects”​ pick up strength when you have no particular reason to trust the person you are talking to.

​I found this little nugget about a Firestone Fairy April fool hoax some years ago​ in UK when despite the hoaxer stating it was a hoax the myth perpetuated and people said they had found mummified bodies as well! Its quite incredible what people will believe and then stick steadfastly to it despite all the evidence.

It seems that if and when you try and debunk a myth or legend​, you may end up reinforcing that belief, and actually ​strengthening the misinformation in people’s minds without ensuring the correct information is grasped.

What you must do, ​Stephen Lewandowsky and John Cook argue, is to start with the plausible alternative (that obviously you believe is correct and have the experience and anecdotal evidence  to demonstrate​). They say that​ i​f you must mention any​ myths or legends​, you should mention this second, and ONLY​ after clearly warning people that you’re about to discuss something that isn’t true.

Amazing isn’t it​?

​So I suggest serious reflection on this and see what beliefs you are holding to despite all the evidence and have a go at ‘debunking ‘ yourself​