Posted tagged ‘confirmation bias’

Stupid? Or Not?

August 31, 2021

dunceToday a friend sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal by Lance Morrow titled You Are Living in the Golden Age of Stupidity.  The article pretty much describes everything that has happened for the last four plus years as stupid, regardless of political party.  We live in a golden age of stupidity, he says.  It is everywhere. President Biden’s conduct of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be remembered as a defining stupidity of our time—one of many. The refusal of tens of millions of people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus will be analyzed as a textbook case of stupidity en masse. Stupid is as stupid does, or, in the case of vaccination, as it doesn’t do.  Every buffoonery of the president and his people was answered by an idiocy from the other side, which in its own style was just as sinister and just as clownish. (more…)

Fake. News.

September 13, 2020

Fake: [fāk] ADJECTIVE:   not genuine; counterfeit.

News: [n(y)o͞oz]  NOUN: newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or                                                    important events.

Fake News: a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media.

I absolutely  hate the term Fake News.   First and perhaps foremost, it reflects the dumbing down of the American language that seems to prevail right now, even in the media.   You would expect better of journalists who are presumably trained in the use of language.  Look at the first two definitions above.  Of course, you could say not genuine news or counterfeit news but it really is a poor choice of words.   Inaccurate news or incorrect news is more precise, sounds better, and to be honest, sounds less dumb.  But bear with me as I dig a little deeper.  News is defined as newly received or noteworthy information.   But if I look at the definition of information, I find knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance.   So if a statement is Fake … not genuine or counterfeit … it conveys no knowledge, hence it is not News.  So, that makes Fake News is an oxymoron, which speaks not to the intelligence of those who say it but the juxtaposition of two words that are contradictory, like original copy. (more…)

What to Believe

March 19, 2020

You’ve probably noticed by now that (1) the news and social media are dominated by the COVID-19 crisis right now and (2) that you can find virtually any prediction on it’s significance, from conspiracy to world-wide disaster. With our media more partisan than ever and driven by readership numbers and internet clicks, it is hard to find the truth about any issue. It is made harder by the fact that as a species we are all prone to some degree of confirmation bias, that nearly unconscious tendency to pay attention to items that support what we believe. With COVID-19, we are deluged with information. Unable to read it all, we are forced to pick and choose making confirmation bias even easier. If have no preformed opinions about the crisis, confirmation bias will lead you to articles that support your world view … optimists will find more hopeful information, pessimists will find worst case scenarios. If you started reading this piece to see what you I think should believe, I’m going to disappoint you, I’m going to make some suggestions as to how to arrive at an informed opinion, with a minimum of confirmation bias. I think if you do that you’ll arrive at an opinion that not only will bear scrutiny but doesn’t scare the crap out of you or make you blow the whole thing off. Here are my suggestions:


Confirmation Bias? Try This

October 31, 2018

morning newsIt is becoming virtually impossible for me to make it through the news in the morning.  Believe it or not, it is not because I am disturbed by repeated national tragedies … although it certainly would be good to have a respite from natural disasters, mass shootings and political infighting.   Nor is it because an inordinate percentage of the news concerns what some celebrity or athlete says or does.  It is not even because the mainstream press offers a decidedly liberal-sided view of most issues.   It is because, more and more, I see that no one is listening to any other viewpoint than their own, so that every new story devolves into a discussion of whose fault it is … and, of course, until we figure that out, we will do nothing to remedy the situation because, you see, only one side’s solution can possibly work.  If you read my last post, Biased … Again, you know that the culprit is Confirmation Bias, that nasty tendency of or species to find evidence that supports what we believe and believe nothing else. (more…)

Both Sides Now

July 3, 2014

I’ve looked at love from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow … it’s loves illusions I recall.  I really don’t know love at all – Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

both sidesThis post isn’t about music … or about amazing songwriters (a category in which Joni Mitchell is, in my opinion, near the top).  It is about having an informed opinion in this sound-bite, get-your-information-on-Facebook and sound-off-on-Twitter world in which we find ourselves.  But Both Sides Now is a perfect title for this post … and if I’m going to borrow from Joni, I thought it was only fair to pay homage to one of her loveliest lyrics.  But it also gives me an opportunity to make a point on opinions.  No matter how much I opine on Joni’s prowess as a singer-songwriter, if you don’t like her sometimes warbley singing style or quirky phrasing, you’re not going to like her as a performer.   I get that and you get that.  We just say, We like different things. (more…)

Bubbles and Brains

November 2, 2013

bubbleI’ve been seeing the term Filter Bubble periodically on various news pages that I frequent.  It’s a term that, as far as I can tell, was coined by Eli Pariser for the title of his book.  The book’s longish slug line provides a pretty good definition of the term: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think.  We all know we’re being tracked.  I go to a website I’ve visited before and even before I log in, it says Hi, Bud up in the corner.   Of course, that’s because when I last visited, the site left a cookie on my computer that identifies me.  It also kept track of what I looked at on the website.  The same thing happens when you use search engines like Google and Yahoo.  If you have a Google account … which toys like smartphones and smart TVs encourage us to have … you may have seen videos you’ve watched on your computer show up on your YouTube history on your TV.   Of course Amazon keeps track of what I look at and buy so it can make helpful (and profitable) recommendations on future visits.  I actually like that it suggests music along the lines of what I buy … with record stores gone, it’s a great way to find new artists.  But since I’m a regular Amazon user, they do know a lot about me.  And with social media like Facebook we intentionally and inadvertently toss gobs of information about ourselves into cyberspace, where someone is carefully tracking it.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more comfortable with businesses tracking me in order to sell me something than the National Security Agency tracking me for who knows what.  That’s a sad commentary on our government, but that’s perhaps a subject for another post.