Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Confirmation Bias and Freedom from Facts

"Confirmation bias" is a great phrase. To put it simply, it's the phenomenon where you interpret what you observe in the light of what you already think. For example, if you already think that White cops are belligerent racists, when you read that a cop has shot a Black thug who just robbed a convenience store and then tried to take the cop's gun away, that's just one more racist cop picking on a peaceful Black man. Boy, really. Over at Had Enough Therapy? [link], Stuart Schneiderman discusses confirmation bias and fact-free thinking, and relates it all to Freud and liberal politics:

An Orgy of Confirmation Bias

As you know, Freud was in the business of interpreting. He told people what it all meant. Or, what it appeared to mean. The meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning of the universe… whatever it was, Freud claimed to know what it meant.

Invariably, the meaning was all about desire. Freud knew what people really, really wanted. This implies, of course, that he could read minds. Why would he know better than you what you wanted?

As it happens, your desire is not an objective fact. You cannot determine empirically, on the basis of evidence, that you want an ice cream cone or a trip to Tahiti. And even if you are persuaded that you know what you want, no one else can really claim to have any objective knowledge of your desire… beyond what you tell him.

You sense that you want this and not that. You act on your sense impression, but that is not the same as knowing, for example, that a cat is on a mat. The latter can be determined objectively. Your desire cannot.

One thing we know about desire is that if you have something you cannot want it. By definition. Wanting something means not having it. You can say that you wish you were anywhere but where you are right now, but you cannot say, in English, that you wish you were where you are. It makes no sense. No one uses such sentences.

No fact proves that you desire something. Just because you do not have a carpet in your hallway does not mean that you want to carpet the hallway.

Nowadays, as the emotionally overwrought have lit upon the notion that the incoming president has no relationship with facts, one feels constrained to note that the outgoing president has never let himself be constrained by fact or by constitutional law or by loyalty to America.

If one can argue cogently that the incoming president is not qualified for the office he is about to assume, what mind warp can possibly make it that the outgoing president was even remotely qualified for the office of the presidency.

In a fact-free world, Obama was supremely qualified, his presidency was a rousing success and Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate for the presidency… ever. In a fact-free world you can say what you want and then force people to believe it all… as a higher truth. What matters is not what is true but what you want to be true.

During the Obama years America took leave of fact. Now, with the incoming Trump administration,
Americans are rediscovering facts.

You know which ones. Take the fact that tells us, biologically, based on chromosomes, that Bradley Manning is a male. It’s a fact. And yet, Manning believes that he is a she and if you deny the fact you are a bigot. And now, our fact-challenged president, reverting to the kind of thinking that caused him to spend two decades lapping up the hate-filled swill issuing from Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has decided that Manning’s betrayal of America was no big deal.

Is it a fact that no one died as a result of Manning’s treason? The New York Times says so. Thus, you can ignore the fact that terrorists the world over pored through the documents that Manning leaked and exacted revenge on anyone who remotely resembled the people described therein. It’s a fact. 

Read the rest here:
Quibcags: Neither is an actual quibcag, of course. The first is illustrated by what looks like a movie still, and the second by our local cartoonist, Baloo.


  1. It's always a bad idea to attempt to use psychology to smear your political opponents, when you represent the party of people who believe that the earth is six thousand years old and humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

    1. It's cute when liberals pretend to appreciate and understand science.

  2. I'll bet "Rosen" thinks Manning is a girl.