Apr 212012
 

One of the coolest paper abstracts I’ve read, via MR, presented without comment: Would you make the same decisions in a foreign language as you would in your native tongue? It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a

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Feb 182012
 

I’ve got plenty of complaints regarding the sort of he-said-she-said faux objectivity that has overwhelmed much of the traditional media, and I’ve written as much here on the blog. It’s Jay Rosen’s “quest for innocence” – the desire to be blameless that drives impartiality off the deep end to the point where it hurts readers.

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Dec 272011
 

More bias research. I’ve been digging in pretty deeply on interventions that help mitigate motivated reasoning and the results aren’t great. There’s self-affirmation, which I discussed in my Atlantic piece, but beyond that it’s pretty thin picking. Motivated reasoning doesn’t track significantly with open-mindedness, and interventions urging participants to be rational seem to have little

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Nov 212011
 

(The clip above covers some basics of mental energy and depletion.) The alternative title for this post was “I’m hungry; you’re wrong.” I’m not sure which is better… In any case, consider this bit from Kahneman: Resisting this large collection of potential availability biases is possible, but tiresome. You must make the effort to reconsider

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Nov 152011
 
Fight bias with math

I just finished the chapter in Kahneman’s book on reasoning that dealt with “taming intuitive predictions.” Basically, we make predictions that are too extreme, ignoring regression to the mean, assuming the evidence to be stronger than it is, and ignoring other variables through a phenomenon called “intensity matching.”¬† Here’s an example (not from the book;

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Nov 142011
 
Why we need journalists (good ones)

I’m in the middle of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. From Chapter 16: Nisbett and Borgida found that when they presented their students with a surprising statistical fact, the students managed to learn nothing at all. But when the students were surprised by individual cases – two nice people who had not helped –

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Sep 032011
 
So you're smart, but are you reasonable?

I was searching for this phantom post pointing to research on verbal reasoning scores and bias (I swear I saw it!) when I came across a fascinating a 1997 paper titled Reasoning Independently of Prior Belief and Individual Differences in Actively Open-Minded Thinking. It’s got some neat if perhaps not totally unsurprising conclusions. First, a

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Aug 212011
 

My latest Atlantic post is up: As I wrote in a¬†previous story, media outlets have an opportunity to design media that accounts for users’ biases. Author bios present such a chance. Without any change to the authors or their content, bios could be constructed in a way that maximizes cultural credibility by tapping into the

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Aug 042011
 

I know I’ve already written twice about the Mercier/Sperber argumentation research, but this NYT piece brings to mind one more point to make. Mercier and Sperber argue that we evolved our capacity for reason largely to convince one another. They make the related point that reasoning is a social rather than an individual process. Regardless

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Jul 192011
 

I highly recommend this excellent piece “The Brain on Trial” from The Atlantic’s July/August issue. This bit stood out as relevant to some of the writing I’ve been doing on overcoming bias: We may be on the cusp of finding new rehabilitative strategies as well, affording people better control of their behavior, even in the

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