The Politics of Confirmation Bias

Forbes, writing about Romney’s campaign being blindsided, reveals a secret that I have been hammering about: This isn’t about politics, its about cognition:

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Team Romney’s polling cluelessness comes after years of conservatives demonizing pointy-headed academics, including scientists. On subjects like evolution, global warming, the biology of human conception, and even macroeconomics, conservatives have been increasingly bold about rejecting the consensus of scientific experts in favor of ideologically self-serving pronouncements. That attitude may have contributed to their loss of the White House in 2012. It will be much more costly for the country as a whole if it doesn’t change before the GOP next captures the White House.

George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a good example of the kind of damage that can be done when elected officials choose ideology over expertise. Bush didn’t just ignore the many experts who warned that invading Iraq was a bad idea. The ideologues were so convinced the war would go well that they massively underestimated the amount of preparation that would be required for the occupation to go reasonably smoothly. As a result, the aftermath of the war was much more chaotic than it would have been if experienced experts had been more involved in the planning process. Many more people died and much more property was destroyed than would have occurred with proper planning.”

I had this post originally scheduled for this morning, but then Invictus’ dropped his excellent “The Problem With a Really Tiny Tent” on me. I could not in good faith publish this shortie in front of that.

The combination of cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias and demographics means the GOP has quite a bit of work ahead of it . . .



Conservatives’ Reality Problem
Timothy B. Lee
Forbes, 11/09/2012

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