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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Does Politics Hurt Your Ability to Think?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Dec 15, 2013.

    Interesting article from Mother Jones. Maybe it provides evidence of what seems to me to be anecdotally true, which is that people with extreme political opinions on both sides are irrational.

    Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math | Mother Jones
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Your link takes me to a blank, Pike. :(
     
  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    It must be part of the Obamacare website then.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    LOL :) I fixed the link, I think...

    (yeah, just checked. It works now) ;)
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't surprise me that the emotive conviction of these kinds of hot-button topics would alter the perception and rationale if these mathematical problems as presented. What is surprising is that the better the person's numeracy, be they "left" or "right", the worse they did.

    I have to admit that this bit right here:
    Feels rather more like politesse than truth. ;)
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    An interesting study that quantifies confirmation bias. I don't believe having certain political views necessarily means one cannot compensate for confirmation bias. And, in fact, I bet if they took different subjects, like 'shows flu vaccines make you sick,' 'or not', and compared the same results to whether people held strong previous convictions about flu vaccine side effects, the results would correlate just as well.

    There's a tendency in the mainstream discourse in the US to assume a false equivalency when it comes to certain left and right political ideologies. The assumption if one holds strong views they must be biased is false. The truth is, all humans are naturally biased by what they already believe. It's how our brains work. And a person who makes an effort to compensate for confirmation bias, and who learns the skills of critical thinking can still have certain strong moral and political convictions.

    Take Paul Krugman, for example. If you look at the evidence and come to the conclusion he has economics right, does that mean you must be affected by liberal confirmation bias? It's possible. But it's also possible that is what the evidence supports. Reality can have a liberal bias. There's no reason to think milquetoast values and a political position is by default the evidence based position.

    So while I find the results interesting, I'd like to see the same study done looking at other established beliefs before I'd paint with the broad brush that the observed effect results from 'extreme' political views. I would hypothesize that the results reflect the fact so few people have very good critical thinking skills and confirmation bias is part of our nature. The researchers used a hot button for political ideology, 'gun control'. They need to try apolitical hot buttons before drawing conclusions this is about political ideology rather than run of the mill confirmation bias.

    And I'd also suggest evaluating critical thinking skills then taking political ideology from a sample of people already judged to have good critical thinking skills.


    I should also mention I'm a fan of Chris Mooney and have heard him talk about his books as well as read the Republican War on Science.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  7. Gallowglass
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    It's a truism that every political opinion has something behind it. Only a very very small number are purely emotional, without at least pseudo-logic or circumstantial evidence to back them up, and the vast majority are very well-founded, even though they may be polar opposites. The problem arises when people are unable to see their opponent's foundation and thus assume it doesn't exist.

    I see this mostly with extremes, but especially those on the self-identified 'left.' Even the most hardcore right-wingers on comment boards at least reference what their opponents think, even if they don't put much stock it it, but their counterparts jump right in with moralistic wailing and 'facts' about how right they are. I think this is a generational thing rather than political: the young tend to hold the most radical views and tend to be the most defensive of them, not to mention less experienced with life and more forthright in their opinions.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    Yikes! :rolleyes:

    Beyond that objection, since it's off topic to turn this thread into a political debate, I'm not going to say more.
     
  9. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I like the old way where the guy that swung the biggest club or had the most friends with big sticks won the argument. It wasn't always right, but at least you knew who your enemies were.
     
  10. Orihalcon
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    This is why I started studying math before getting myself involved in politics :-D
     
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