This diary's title is a tribute to neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat chronicles ways in which brain damage can affect our perceptions in odd ways. But our brains can also lead us astray when they are working normally, in everyday life. A case in point is the now-infamous New Yorker cover that features false views of Barack and Michelle Obama taken by their fiercest opponents.
One set of brain quirks allows us to eventually accept a false statement as being true even when we are explicitly told otherwise. Now we have a piece at the American Academy of Political and Social Science blog on how these ideas apply to the New Yorker cover. The use of caricature may potentially amplify the problems of false memory formation. We state:
Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues have shown that if people aren't given enough time to think, they tend to automatically accept a statement as being true. Visual information is processed particularly rapidly. And what's more immediate than a caricature?
I encourage people to check out the rest of our piece!