"What I Tell You Three Times Is True." (Lewis Carroll) Might This Formula – or a More Sophisticated Version of It – Actually Determine What We Believe to Be True?

Topics: Truth, Cognitive biases, Logic Pages: 4 (1261 words) Published: October 8, 2007
Repetition is our way of learning knowledge. Repetition is drilling something to memory, reinforcing the idea in our heads. It is the key to reflexive use (use without conscious thought). Your mind "learns" by repetition and reinforcement. Repetition and its effects on what we believe to be true, play a major role in the way that we accumulate general knowledge.

The formula implies that repetition is equal to truth, when really repetition is just repetition. Repetition does not make a statement the truth. But a statement, if repeated often enough, can come to be accepted as truth. This leads us to the question whether a lie can be accepted as truth. From the standpoint of logic, the number of times an incorrect fact is repeated is irrelevant. It is still false. But research has shown that a statement, even an incorrect fact, if repeated often enough, can be accepted as truth. This paper will examine several research studies, influencing variables, and examples from everyday life to identify this occurrence. In addition to this, the possible effects of repetition will be discussed as well.

One of the simplest ways to show how repetition causes a statement to be accepted as truth is gossip. First, someone tells a friend a statement, which can be true or false. This friend tells another friend, who tells another friend, and soon this statement is known by everyone, and considered by everyone to be a fact. The repetition of this statement causes it to be thought of as true, and this belief increases with every whisper. This can be a problem, as statements which are completely false can be willingly accepted to be true by the general population.

The phenomenon has been identified by several psychologists and philosophers. In Straight and Crooked Thinking, R.H. Thouless states that: "If statements are made again and again in a confident manner, then their hearers will tend to believe them quite independently of their soundness and of the presence or absence...
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