[ExI] Reinforcing our Prejudices

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Apr 18 06:43:51 UTC 2008

Damien points out

> This is hardly news, but it's not a bad pop summary of in-built 
> cognitive limitations:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/opinion/17kristof.html?th&emc=th>
> <We seek out information that reinforces our prejudices....
> This resistance to information that doesn't mesh with our 
> preconceived beliefs afflicts both liberals and conservatives,
> but a raft of studies shows that it is a particular problem with 
> conservatives.

Perhaps reinforcing the researchers' own biases? At least
things along the lines of counting the political opposition
as retarded or mentally ill are less prevalent today. A huge
number of psychiatrists in the 1960s were willing to affirm
that Barry Goldwater was mentally ill for spouting his

And then we had "The Authoritarian Personality". The urge
to go after the opposition this way, especially after conservatives,
is hardly dead. Much newer, but still with mostly the same
old ideological biases is "The Authoritarians"
http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/ by Altemeyer.
I wish I could find the quite stunning refutation of that
that I read a while back. There's this, but it's not as good:

But I don't think that this on-the-whole lamentable tendency to
reinforce our own prejudices is all bad. It may partly simply
be a byproduct of trying to learn more. For example, I used
to be able to listen to talk shows or read editorials by my
political opposites or religious opposites, but so often now,
even the first few  sentences contain implicit propositions that
simply no longer make any sense to me. If you've decided
long ago, for example, that Darwinism is opposed to the
Lord's teaching---or vice versa---there is a definite limit to
what you can learn from your opposites' explanations.


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