We all know the form. And it’s tempting, isn’t it?
“(Stupid) People say this…
… but the truth is this…”
The problem is that your audience are more likely to remember the myth that you’ve restated as being true and not the myth-busting evidence that you’ve laid before them.
“When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a flier to debunk myths about the flu vaccine, it repeated several of the myths … and labelled them as false. A study of people give the flier found that ‘within 30 minutes, older people misremembered 28 per cent of the false statements as true.’ Worse, ‘three days later, they remembered 40 per cent of the myths as factual.”
- Microsoft regularly use the tactic – and, if I’m honest, I can remember (maybe ten years ago) approving an award for exactly that approach – but this is a particularly egregious example as the reader must click on the myth to read the debunking. In effect, the reader retains this: “Cloud computing: Lack of privacy, Not secure, Not mature, No ownership, Less productive …”. Not at all the intention, I’m sure.
- New Economics Foundation appear to have build a strategy around the approach.
Be careful. Adopting a myth-busting approach can a serious mythtake.