As the Bias Wheel Turns

The period of time immediately following a Party convention is an excellent time to observe confirmation bias on a mass scale.  Take for example this Yahoo News article: Obama Speech Inspires Fans, Turns Off Republicans.  It’s just one of many out today that contain quotes from Obama supporters who were inspired by the speech and feel emboldened by their candidate, and quotes from Obama detractors who say his speech merely reinforced their negative impressions. While this evident confirmation bias shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, it is admitted by almost no one.  The issue isn’t whether anyone should, or can, extract grounded evidence (either pro or con their position) from a campaign speech. Rather, it’s whether someone can countervail their confirmation bias long enough to actually examine truth claims made during a speech and throughout a campaign. The studies on this are not encouraging. The far greater tendency is to rely on interpretation of truth claims, and as we know there’s a robust media industry built on exactly that tendency. But then you not only have the interpreters’ confirmation bias to contend with (and it’s generally very strong), but the bias inherent in the vested interests these interpreter’s hail from. And on and on the bias wheel turns.

For at least a smidgen of clearer examination of truth claims, this site is worth reading, and another good one is here.


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