When people hear only what they want to hear

People deliberately avoid information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing.

They are also remarkably adept at selectively directing their attention to information that affirms what they believe and forgetting information they wish were not true, say the US authors of a paper aptly titled Information Avoidance.

Drawing on research in economics, psychology and sociology, Russell Golman, David Hagmann and George Loewenstein say information is often not put to good use.

"Questionable evidence is often treated as credible when it confirms what someone wants to believe, as is the case of discredited research linking vaccines to autism,” says Professor Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who co-founded the field of behavioural economics.

And, by the same token, evidence that meets the rigorous demands of science is often