Social Justice Poetry

The “Backfire Effect” – Untruth versus Poetry | A Social Justice Poem by Howard Richard Debs

So Chicken Licken believes the sky is falling
because an acorn drops upon his head; he
tells his close associate Henny Penny who
is flabbergasted at the thought and the
two march off to warn as many as possible
as quickly as they can, those such as
Goosey Loosey, Turkey Lurkey, Ducky Lucky,
all greatly concerned about their pending
doom and wondering how they
might ward off this catastrophe. They
urgently go together to see Cocky Locky,
known to be a problem solver without compare
and after presenting their case, he responds
in his usual measured and steady manner:
“The facts are these my friends” he begins,
“look up and see the sky is still in its place
on high above, the clouds still sail by
following the winds aloft, there
is nary a piece of firmament displaced,
the evidence is as clear as the day itself.”
But the others are unconvinced, even more
so do they fear their time has come, it is the end.
Instead of being comforted by the logic given, they
yet more staunchly conclude they are in harm’s way.
They start to run wildly about, trying to escape many
are trampled in the melee, and blindly fleeing
the remaining horde falls off a cliff and dies.
“Belief is the stronger of the truth.”

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Author’s note: It’s been a rough time for the truth. Now I know why. Buried in a social science journal is the answer, the “backfire effect.” Misinformed people do not change their minds once they have been presented with facts that challenge their beliefs, au contraire they are likely to become more attached to their mistaken beliefs, so assert the experts. We need something more than facts to turn the tide against untruth. I urge poetry.

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