"So you think you’re open-minded…"

Towards the end in a discussion of biases is the bit that I particularly want to point out:

... the last one I’m going to mention is probably the most important. The sophistication effect, in which the most knowledgeable and politically engaged people, “because they possess greater ammunition with which to counterargue incongruent facts, figures, and arguments, will be more susceptible to motivated bias than will unsophisticates”.

Let’s go over that again: the better-informed and cleverer you are, the more vulnerable you are to certain biases, such as motivated scepticism, because you are more able to destroy the arguments that you don’t like, but still feel no particular desire to examine the ones that you do. If you’re a politically well-informed and intelligent Corbynite, it will be amazingly simple to find the examples of Tories using it as a smear, and vice versa.

So it becomes easy to tear down silly arguments by your opponents, and so you become ever more convinced of your own brilliance and their idiocy or malignity.

I don't think in the case of journalism that something like Breitbart is a great alternative, but it seems to me that groupthink exists amongst journalists as, e.g., Nate Silver has argued. I also think that the same applies amongst academics when it comes to a number of politically sensitive subject areas.

Random links

Review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now
Review of a book arguing that the world is gettin better; "As I read Pinker, I sometimes imagined a book published in 1923 about the astonishing improvements in the condition of Europe’s Jews following their emancipation."
GDPR is centralizing the market
Why big online companies might welcome privacy legislation.
Math, Girls and Socialism
"the gender gap in math is smaller in European countries that used to be part of the Soviet bloc, as opposed to the rest of Europe. The lesson is twofold: (1) a large part of the pervasive gender gap in math is due to social stereotypes; (2) institutions can durably modify these stereotypes."
Goodhart's law
"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure"

On history and politics

A quote from a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

to acknowledge that history is political is not to say that it necessarily favors any particular politics, nor that historians are propagandists. To the contrary, while many historians are politically active and committed, they are less frequently strident. Historians usually see historical outcomes as contingent and often unexpected. People intend one thing and produce another. America’s so-called founding fathers hated political parties yet created a country that soon produced a rigid party system. People with righteous goals can become oppressors in the name of those values. The French Jacobins cried "liberty, equality, fraternity" and created a bloody dictatorship. Those who seek to end injustice are themselves flawed people. And many whom our society now chooses to honor suffered in their own time. Martin Luther King Jr., the closest thing to a secular saint that the United States has, was profoundly unpopular at the time of his death, and the FBI apparently tried to goad him to commit suicide.

To think historically is also to see things from multiple perspectives; it is a necessary skill to think through the actions of others. When we look into the past, we see that people held views that were compatible with the way they lived. We see that their outlook on the world was a product of their time, their position within society, and their character. What seemed right and what seemed wrong to them had a great deal to do with their time in history, the society in which they lived, and the kind of power they had, or did not have. Historical thinking demands that we recognize that the same is surely true of us. Our present will soon become someone else’s past, and nothing puts us outside the influence of the social forces of our own time. We too will one day be judged as flawed, and as products of our own time, just as we now see those who lived in past decades, centuries, and millennia.

More random links

These Personality Types Have The Happiest Marriages
"men who are introverted gain the least in the long-term from being married, with extraverted men gaining the most from marriage. Introverted men were actually less happy, on average, after getting married than men who had never married."
Ethnic favouritism: Not just an African phenomenon
"Ethnic favouritism is widely regarded as an African phenomenon, or at most a problem of poor and weakly institutionalised countries. This column uses data on night-time light intensity to challenge these preconceptions. Ethnic favouritism is found to be as prevalent outside of Africa as it is within, and not restricted to poor or autocratic nations either. Rather, re-election concerns appear to be an important driver of the practice."
Preference for boys persists among 2nd generation South Asian parents, study finds
An update on an update. The difference in behaviour amongst immigrant populations that I noted there still exists. Interestingly this found that the different was largely amongst second-generation South Asian immigrants than first generation. As before I'm guessing that this'll attract a lot more attention than the opposite trend seeming to exist in the overall population.
The Great Facebook Crash
"The very largest news publishers appear to be faring somewhat better on Facebook in terms of engagement, with Fox News especially flourishing since the company began trying to prioritize 'trusted sources.'"

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