An interesting case study was referenced in the comments as well.
Americans have shown over and over again that they DON’T want truth; they want the ILLUSION of truth. Truth can be gray, messy, and inconclusive. The illusion of truth provides easy, safe and consistent answers—even if they are dead wrong and do not stand up to close scrutiny.
Not only do we not want actual truth, we will bend new and conflicting information to fit what we already believe to be truth. Search for the Steve Hoffman (et al) study titled “There Must Be A Reason: Osama, Saddam, and Inferred Justification” - it’s in this month’s Sociological Inquiry as well as on the web site for the Sociology department at SUNY Buffalo.
In the study, when people who believed Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks were shown article after article dismissing the link, and even statements by President Bush dismissing the link, they not only still believed in the Saddam-9/11 connection, but they rewrote and reinterpreted this new information in order to maintain their beliefs.
Stephen Colbert’s joke about the number of neurons in the brain versus the gut is quite unfortunately appropriate. Most Americans prefer to look it up in their guts rather than a book.
Of course, with as fat as Americans are getting, you'd think that with our ginormous guts we'd do better than we are...