How Bias Bends Fact

by Patrick Appel

Joe Keohane's article on the fact that "facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds" is making the rounds:

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept.

This is one reason why we post so much material on neurology, cognitive biases, and psychology. And it is why Andrew post opinions 180 degrees from his own. Good blogging requires reading pundits you hate. Systems, such as markets or the scientific method, are generally more reliable than individuals. In keeping with that, the Dish attempts to be more a system through which information is processed rather than a final product.