A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving — Confirmation Bias and YOU By DAVID LEONHARDT, New York Times JULY 2, 2015 … what psychologists and economists call confirmation bias. Not only are people more likely to believe information that fits their pre-existing beliefs, but they’re also more likely to go looking for such information. …If you’re politically liberal, maybe you’re thinking of the way that many conservatives ignore strong evidence of global warming and its consequences and instead glom onto weaker contrary evidence. Liberals are less likely to recall the many incorrect predictions over the decades, often strident and often from the left, that population growth would create widespread food shortages.….
The rise and fall of cognitive skills by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office, March 6, 2015
Triumph of the Wrong by Paul Krugman, New York Times, NOV. 6, 2014 …politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday…Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda. So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything…the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances… if Republicans have been so completely wrong about everything, why did voters give them such a big victory? Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions… the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy…This was, it turned out, bad for America but good for Republicans. Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party.
… financiers who presided over the market collapse… could have and should have seen it coming.…the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people…Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system. Who’s Not Sorry Now? Editorial, New York Times, April 11, 2010
Political Values Are Dividing Us Over Basic Facts, Not Just Policy Choices By Justin Reedy and Christopher Wells, HuffingtonPost, 9/30/2014 … our country’s political disagreement. Everything from the best policy for solving a problem to the core values that should guide our nation seem to be hotly contested…most conceptions of democracy assume that these arguments will be over values and priorities — that we observe the world around us, and apply our personal conscience (and, of course, self-interest) to the political choices we face. Unfortunately, research is showing that it isn’t this simple. Much of the time citizens hold different understandings of even the basic facts related to the topics we are debating. We started investigating this phenomenon …What is becoming clear is that our political ideology shapes more than just our values and sense of right and wrong — it can also lead us to believe or disbelieve “facts” about the world, regardless of whether they’re real or not. This doesn’t bode well for a vibrant democracy and good governance when opposing political groups can have their own sets of facts in line with their ideology… If people are seemingly able to develop false factual beliefs without any help from ideologically driven media messages, and if efforts like news media fact-checking are failing to correct shoddy facts, then what hope do we have for a vibrant, meaningful public debate? Ideas coming from a research program known as deliberative democracy are suggesting a startlingly simple answer: Bring together people to focus on an issue and talk about it….What we are seeing so far is that average citizens are willing and able to do this…
The Trouble With Brain Science By GARY MARCUS, New York Times, JULY 11, 2014
Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else’s By Erin Brodwin June 26, 2014… People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by reason, not just passion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience….when people who are more responsive to injustice see things happen that they find morally wrong, such as abuse or race-based inequality, their minds respond by accessing the sections of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning. When they view examples of people acting morally just, such as giving equal rights to a marginalized group or protecting animals from harm, their brains respond in the same way…
Beyond the war on science: Why the right embraces ignorance as a virtue by Amanda Marcotte, posted on AlterNet, Jun 13, 2014
37 Percent of People Don’t Have a Clue About What’s Going on By Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2013...about 37 percent of Americans are just are not very bright. Or rather, quite shockingly dumb…reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span…The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become…/37-percent-of-people-dont-have-a-clue-about-whats-going-on/
The Decline of Critical Thinking, The Problem of Ignorance by Lawrence Davidson /the-decline-of-critical-thinking/…the habit of asking critical questions can be taught. However, if you do not have a knowledge base from which to consider a situation, it is hard to think critically about it … loyalty comes from myth-making and emotional bonds. In both cases, really effective critical thinking might well be incompatible with the desired end…The truth is that people who are consistently active as critical thinkers are not going to be popular, either with the government or their neighbors. /the-decline-of-critical-thinking/
Conservatives With a Cause: ‘We’re Right’ By ASHLEY PARKER, September 30, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/us/politics/conservatives-with-a-cause-were-right.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131001&_r=2&
Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson Common Dreams, June 18, 2012 We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world. We are de-evolving, hurtling headlong into a past that was defined by serfs and lords; by necromancy and superstition; by policies based on fiat, not facts. Much of what has made the modern world in general, and the United States in particular, a free and prosperous society comes directly from insights that arose during the Enlightenment. Too bad we’re chucking it all out and returning to the Dark Ages. …Now, we seek to operate by revealed truths, not reality. Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists, self-interested corporations, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as reality by rightwing politicians…Second, the Enlightenment laid the groundwork for our form of government. The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including ours. John Locke and others argued that governments derived their authority from the governed, not from divine right. Governments could be legitimate, then, only with the consent of the governed. Jefferson acknowledged Locke’s influence on the Declaration of Independence and his ideas are evident in the Constitution. Here again, our founders used reason, empiricism and academic scholarship to cobble together one of the most enduring and influential documents in human history. For all its flaws, it has steered us steadily toward a more perfect union. Until recently…We are, indeed, at an epochal threshold. We can continue to discard the Enlightenment values which enabled both an untold increase in material wealth and a system of government which turned serfs into citizens. A system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few. Or we can continue our abject surrender to myths, magical thinking, and self-delusion and the Medieval nation-state those forces are resurrecting. Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing.