Rick Santorum is no stranger to individual responsibility. Indeed, he's the man who claims to have single-handedly crushed Iran with tough sanctions, and once said that immigrants in his grandfather's day did not survive on government handouts, but by picking themselves up by their bootstraps and working their way to success. Which is why, on Sunday, a day after the March For Our Lives protest, he made his views on the teenagers leading the protests very clear. "How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that."

He has today, backtracked, saying he misspoke in using the word "CPR," clarifying Wednesday morning on CNN that, "...The positive things that have come out of these mass shootings, are organizations and people who have actually focused on what we can do at our individual schools and communities to actually prevent these types of things."

Meanwhile, at Fox News, on "Fox & Friends" hosted Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor who does not believe in gun control to make the case that the media is biased, and Cabot Phillips, a pro-gun activist and media director for CampusReform.org were present.

Phillips stated, "The more people I talked to, there was certainly a consensus, where everyone said, we want to see action, we want to see legislation passed, we’re here for that, to tell Congress that’s what they want. And when I asked people, 'What do you want, what do you want to see?' There was very little knowledge of what they were actually advocating for." On his show, Tucker Carlson argued, "Journalists agree with Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, so they’ve slapped them on the cover of Time magazine and declared that they’re heroes and you’re not allowed to disagree with them." (Vox)

Carlson perfectly surmised the new strategy of Fox News in how it will deal with the Parkland shooting victims, Ad Hominem.

Does that mean anything?

Yes, and no. It's not a new strategy. It's how both the right and the left have attacked opponents for years. In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman," to which Adams' men responded by calling Jefferson, "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." (Mental Floss)

So, it could be that "lacking individual responsibility" is just the latest creative insult, keeping in line with the country's argumentative spirit.

However, the Parkland survivors are not running for president. They are victims, demanding the president do something. They are not career politicians, and would not be in the public spotlight if not for a tragedy. So, what does this latest rendition of Ad Hominem tell us?

The backfire effect

We, as humans, like to be right.

As discussed by David McRaney, the backfire effect essentially boils down to, "When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.” It's a theory put forward by Claude Steele, that suggests perceptions of the world are inherently tied to a person's sense of self. As discussed by Mother Jones, reasoning and emotion are inseparable (it's what researchers call "affect"). We apply fight or flight responses not only to predators, but to data as well. Our emotions come first as a quick fire response, followed by reasoning that does not take place in a completely neutral head-space. One can not completely separate the lizard brain and human brain.

Far right news pundits are being faced with the challenge of how to combat the Parkland survivors' arguments.

The first reaction is not logical. The debate has not become about gun control, but rather, how the left wants to do away with the second amendment, and take away all guns. During the March, Spencer Brown, a spokesperson for Young America’s Foundation, stated: "What we see in DC and across the country at this March for Our Lives is just the latest chapter in just the sad history of liberals trying to scapegoat responsible gun owners for the crimes committed by people committing crimes. ... It’s not a failure on the part of the Second Amendment." (Vox). Pop singer Kaya Jones argued that the left desired to "take this country over and force its hand into the world order.”

As discussed in Scientific American, "We will never eradicate bias—not from others, not from ourselves and not from society." But, there are ways to reframe the debate with the backfire effect in mind.

Saying "It's not about the second amendment," will provoke negative responses, instead of more specific, "It's for gun control." Education and facts, of course, are important, but it's important to understand that it is not enough to state facts and assume it will be enough to convince others. It is a long, uphill battle to undo misconceptions, one both journalists and scientists have been battling for decades.

The work the Parkland teenagers have started is incredible. It is a fight worth fighting. But it is important to know that undercutting someone's sense of self with facts and figures may not be enough to win a fight. As stated in Scientific American, "when the truth becomes inconvenient, people take flight from facts." And then, well, they might tell you it's your responsibility to use CPR on a gunshot wound.