Pollster says strong political beliefs can make facts harder to see

 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate last year at Washington University in St. Louis. Your political beliefs may be influencing your perception. (AP file photo)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate last year at Washington University in St. Louis. Your political beliefs may be influencing your perception. (AP file photo)

A Farleigh Dickinson University pollster said a recent survey shows that hardcore partisans are more willing to dismiss facts.

“People are very good at telling truth from fiction if they have the facts. But when politics gets in the way, their ability to tell truth from fiction goes in the gutter,” said pollster Dan Cassino. “People who are motivated to believe something because they like a candidate — or don’t like a candidate — are going to find a way to believe that, and they’re going to twist the facts to fit what they want to believe.”

Cassino suggested that  people are quick to make conclusions about the reason President Donald Trump will not release his tax returns. The survey found that two-thirds of New Jersey residents surveyed said Trump is withholding them because they will show that he has close financial and political ties to Russian interests. 

“That’s a huge number for something that might be true, but just isn’t true yet. Among Democrats ,the more political knowledge you have, the more likely you are to believe that,” Cassino said. “While among other groups, the more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to know that just hasn’t been proven yet.” 

One possible reason for this, said Cassino, is that people pay attention to the news that reinforces their beliefs. 

When politics don’t color their view, he said, those paying attention to world events have a good ability to tell fact from fiction.

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