The Psychology of Loud

Hi Everybody,

CORRECT or RIGHT? I have always been intrigued by how often loud TV personalities can be wrong in their predictions or perceptions of an event and still have major followings.

I personally have always valued accuracy and truthfulness over all else, and tend to follow people who are the most accurate. I have always felt that loud people are loud because they are making up for a lack of intelligence, which seems to play out over and over in real life. “The loosest wheel makes the most noise,” so to speak.

Evidently, this does not hold true for the majority of people.

LOUD = CORRECT- According to studies performed by graduate students at Washington State University, being loud and using strong words project confidence, which seems to outweigh how right or wrong you are in the perception of others. The more confident you come across, the more people seem to assume you are correct, even when you are not.

These graduate students studied the connection between confidence, accuracy and popularity by looking at amateur and professional predictions for the 2012 Baseball Playoffs, the 2012 World Series and the 2013 Super Bowl. They compared how loud a predictor was, how correct they tended to be, and how many followers they had.

What they found was that in all cases, every single one, being confident, loud and “in-your-face” brought in more followers than being correct. Further, even though amateur predictors were correct equally as often as the professionals, the professionals tended to act more confident, speak louder or use strong language like “vanquish”, “destroy” and “annihilate”, and were therefore perceived as being correct more often.

MORAL OF THE STORY- The psychological theory behind this is that people hate uncertainty, and since most people are basically very uncertain they seek certainty from others. Even when the person they are following is wrong, the loud speaker still creates a sense of certainty in their followers that gives the masses comfort. And if the speaker happens to be wrong, as they often are, they are simply loud and confident about why they were wrong – there is always an excuse, and it is never their fault.

Nate Silver is given as an example. He predicted the last election in all 50 states, but when asked, he said he was “only 90 percent sure”. 90 percent is an extremely high percentage, and nobody else even came close to being as accurate. But because he was not loud, aggressive and “in your face”, he did not develop a following.

So what is the point of the story? Whether it is politics or medicine, if someone is trying to convince you of something by being loud and in your face, try to look past the behavior and into the essence of the matter to find whether the truth is there or not. Just because your doctor (or anyone else) is loud, certain and confident does not make them correct about the situation. Try your best to think for yourself.

It has been said, “The truth can be whispered, only error needs a loud voice”. According to the latest studies, this is not necessarily true.

“Only the extremely wise and the extremely ignorant are sure.” -Chinese Proverb

Hope this helps,

Dr Matt and Dr Robin (email)

This week’s bit of Useless Information:  Over a period of 200 hundred years, 3 ships perished at the same location off the coast of Wales, on the same day of the year (December 5), and each only had one survivor.  These 3 survivors all had the same name:  Hugh Williams. 

This email is courtesy of Matthew Barnes, D.C. and Robin Barnes, D.C.  Neither this nor any of our emails are intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such.  They are opinion and are for informational purposes only.  None of the nutrients discussed here are meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

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