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Saturday
Mar242012

Empirical evidence that liberals misconstrue empirical evidence to suit their ideology

It can be found in all the blog and media reports that construe our CCP studies as empirical proof that "conservatives" are uniquely vunlerable to biased readings of empirical evidence.

I know that some researchers and informed observers hypothesize that motivated reasoning is more strongly associated with conservatism than with liberalism.  I've explained (multiple times) why I am not persuaded -- but noted, too, that the issue is one that admits of empirical study by those who are intellectually curious about it.

I'm not that interested in spending my own scarce research time trying to definitively resolve the "asymmetry" question. For, as I've explained, I think that existing studies, including ours, establish very very convincingly that there is a tendency toward biased assessments of empirical evidence across the ideological spectrum (or cultural spectra), and that that problem is more than big enough to be a concern for everyone. Being persuaded of that, I myself would rather work on trying to figure out how this dynamic --which interferes with enlightened self-government and thus harms us all -- can be mitigated.

I have no quarrel with anyone who, after thoughtful and fair-minded engagement with our studies and our interpretations of them, comes to the conclusion that our findings support inferences different from the ones we make on the basis of our data. In fact, I am eager to learn from any such person. 

But for the record, I very much do resent it when I am misdescribed as having drawn conclusions I have not drawn by people who have not even read our work (much less misread it because of the sort of "team sports" mentality -- & outright contempt for others-- that obviously drives reporting like this and this).

And I resent it just as much when the dumb & intollerant person doing the mischaracterizing is a conservative who is chortling over a simplistic misreading of our work that supposedly shows that people with liberal views are stupid.

But so as not to leave readers of this post with a biased sampling of the evidence about people's capacity to engage in impartial assessment of empirical evidence, there are also manymany, manymany thoughtful observers of diverse political orientations who get that the pathology of motivated reasoning doesn't discriminate on the basis of ideology.

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Reader Comments (1)

"I don't mind if you say over my words in your name. But please don't say over your words in my name."

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMikeR

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