In a classic study of human nature, Russo and Schoemaker (1989) showed that we believe what we hear, whether or not what we hear is actually true. They compared people's beliefs about health risks with what was published in newspapers about health risks. They found that beliefs were largely based on the frequency of newspaper reports on health risks, not on the facts. For example, stomach cancer is a greater killer than all motor vehicle accidents combined, but stomach cancer is not covered by the newspapers, while motor vehicle accidents are. Consequently, most people believe that motor vehicle accidents kill more people than stomach cancer kills.
Online access to SPIE eBooks is limited to subscribing institutions.