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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

A Stereotypical Blog Post

November 27th, 2020 No comments

During my sophomore year of high school, my once favorite teacher, Mrs. Kahler, looked at me and exclaimed, “You’re lucky! God taught you Jews how to handle money well! It’s in your blood.” At the time, I actually didn’t mind. I had heard my fair share of jokes about Jews and, perhaps naturally, something about me—be it my nose, financial status, or diet—always seemed to be the punchline. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but inform her that those “Jews are great with money” jokes aren’t funny—nor are they particularly accurate. Unfortunately, this kind of experience is common. In fact, even Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has to deal with harmful, pejorative stereotypes. Most recently, Harris experienced these stereotypes from President Donald Trump himself, as he appeared to weaponize the classic trope of the ‘angry Black woman,’ labeling her “nasty,” “mad,” and “angry” after an impressive cross-examination of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. More recently, Harris faced public criticismoften from conservative men, and supporters of President Trump—following her debate against Vice President Mike Pence, after she faced repeated interruptions and simply attempted to keep the discussion fair by saying, “I’m speaking.”

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Lower that cynical finger…and consider pointing it at yourself!

November 25th, 2020 No comments

Yep, we are talking about you!

I’m sure we are all accustomed to that tingling power-trip feeling of blaming all of our personal and world problems on others. Heck no, global warming is not your fault.
Heck no, you aren’t the reason why that last relationship didn’t work out. Of course your lab partner is going to take more credit for that assignment than he or she actually deserves… Right? Now I know this might be a little distressing to hear, but this whole cynical worldview you’ve got going on… It’s not a great look. Not only is it inaccurate, but it’s making you look a little bit like a Debby Downer. Now hear me out, prove to me you aren’t a hopeless cynic by fighting the assumption that this post is a jumble of nonsense written by a college student. I can give you a second to decide if you want to give this a shot…

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The Rise of Opinionated News Sources: How Confirmation Bias is Affecting How We Vote

November 24th, 2020 No comments

As Donald Trump’s four year term is coming to a close, people all over the United States–and the world– were more anxious than ever to see who would win the election. Would Trump be rewarded with a second term, or would former Vice-President Joe Biden get enough votes to make Trump the first one-term President since Clinton beat Bush in 1992? Regardless of the fact that Biden won, one thing is clear: our country seems to be more politically divided than ever before. The rise of biased news sources combined with the power of confirmation bias have contributed to much of our current, incredibly-divided, political climate.

Walter Cronkite, a retired CBS news anchor who was widely trusted by Middle America.

Before cable and internet news, the three television networks in the United States were ABC, CBS, and NBC. Because they had to appeal to very broad and diverse audiences, these networks relayed the news of the day fairly objectively, and it was challenging to decipher whether news anchors, such as Walter Cronkite, were liberal or conservative based on their reporting (Poniewozik). Over the last 30 years, with the rise of cable and internet news, news sources have become increasingly more biased and focused on niche audiences. These networks are supplying the public with opinionated accounts of what’s going on instead of seeking to simply report objective facts (Pearson). Those who follow the news know that many networks and sites like CNN, the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, and MSNBC are left-leaning news sources, and thus share the news from a more liberal point of view. The opposite is true for networks like Fox News, Breitbart and the National Review, which are right leaning and promote more conservative opinions, as expressed through the data found by AllSides–a Media Bias chart that collects information from people across the political spectrum through blind bias surveys, editorial reviews, independent reviews, and third party data.
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Repetition Makes Fact

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

 

Read it & weep, Wakefield!

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir when he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal suggesting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and, ultimately, debunked Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the Lancet, the medical journal in which Wakefield’s study was initially published, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In 2008 and 2009, while vaccination rates were on the decline, the measles came back in full force, plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). As a result of the chaos that ensued following his erroneous declaration, Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license. How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust? Good question. A prime culprit in perpetuating the belief in Wakefield’s false claim was repetition.

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“Everyones an Idiot Except for Me” Naive Realism

April 26th, 2018 No comments

“How could anyone think this way?”

Political polarization between members of America’s two major political is a common topic of discussion in modern America. People from opposite sides of the political spectrum no longer seem to view each other as having a different opinion, but as being either stupid or in some way morally contemptuous. A quick foray into a social media platform like twitter can demonstrate this. In a typical political argument on twitter there is very little debate and many more accusations of selfish motives and moral posturing. Has one side really become corrupted and the other’s loss of dialogue simply a response to that or are many Americans suffering from the cognitive bias “Naïve Realism“.

Naive Realism is commonly defined as the belief that one’s way of looking at the world is based on the objective interpretation of the world and therefore anyone who thinks differently must be misinformed, stupid, or morally dangerous. Experiments have been done that show the effects of naïve realism across a diverse range of areas, from sports to politics and beyond. One study commonly referred to as the “They Saw a Game Study” had students from Dartmouth and Princeton watch the same recording of a heated football game between the two schools. The footage was the same for students from both schools. Despite this, students from each school reported seeing very different events. Princeton students believed Dartmouth had made twice as many infractions as Princeton while students from Dartmouth believed the teams were equally violent and both were to blame (Hastorf & Cantril, 1954). These findings, while for something as simple as a game of football, are certainly very important. Perhaps a similar effect exists in politics. Issues that seem to have a common sense resolution to you may be viewed entirely differently by someone else down to the level of perception of the problem itself. All this might lead you to ask how could this be.

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Hop on the Bandwagon…. or Don’t!

April 26th, 2018 2 comments

Would you ever jump off a bridge because everyone else is? Have you ever bought a product because “everyone” has it and you feel left out? If so, you have fallen into the trap of the bandwagon effect. This cognitive bias is defined as  people’s tendencies to quickly conform to popular trends or beliefs within their society (Simon, 1954). This cognitive bias is one that is frequently seen within everyday behaviors. Whether it is seen in social media, advertisements, politics, fashion, or any other trends, people are always trying to jump on this metaphorical bandwagon. One question about why people choose to conform, even if it is not in line with their own personal values or opinions, can be partially answered by the bandwagon effect. Conforming to social norms is something that the Millennial generation has continued to do as a result of pressures from prior generations.

Bandwagon Effect Meme

Although the bias was proposed in 1954, nowadays, the constant pressures to always be up to date with the different trends will only continue to grow as social media continues to take over our lives. The recent creation of social media and other forms of communication only help such cognitive biases flourish. The image to the right is a meme that is mocking the bandwagon effect. Nowadays, people’s eating habits are changing purely because things like “not eating gluten” are cool. People are ignoring actual evidence about different product’s true purposes, and hopping on the bandwagon. People’s desires to consume, buy, and use certain products are not always influenced by the product’s usefulness, but rather by what trend setters are doing. For example, extraneous items that are not necessities of life, such as iPhones, are typically bought based on consumer reviews. Think about things you have purchased in the past. Can you think of any good examples of products you bought because it was advertised as, “everyone’s favorite,” or “America’s best?”

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You will remember this post. Why? Because it is weird!

April 20th, 2017 3 comments

http://izismile.com

Did you notice that you are actually very good at remembering weird things? You may not remember every single person who walks a dog on your way home because it’s just normal. However, if you see a dog walking a dog, you are very unlikely to forget the dogs. Why? Because they are weird! As you may expect, research supports that people do remember “weird” things better than normal things.

Von Restorff (1933) demonstrated that people are more likely to remember a distinctive item in a list of homogeneous items than in a list of heterogeneous items (e.g., an orange in a bunch of bananas vs. an orange in a bunch of different fruit). This is called the Von Restorff effect or the isolation effect.

 

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Why Students of Politics Should Leave The Colby Hill: The Confirmation Bias

April 17th, 2017 3 comments

On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Although his supporters were excited and triumphant, many students at Colby College and other campuses across America were left shell-shocked. Students at Ivy League colleges – and those at Ivy League wannabees – seemed especially devastated and stunned. The website The College Fix reported numerous scenarios that suggested that students had expected a completely different outcome. Students at Columbia “came running, screaming, and crying to College Walk at 1 a.m.”, and insisted that exams be postponed so they could recover from the ordeal of Trump’s win. Over at Cornell, a completely bewildered student wandered around campus mid-election screaming, “How the f*** is he winning? What the f***?” At Yale, campus organizers actually organized a post-election group primal scream so students could “express their frustration productively.” Even at Penn, Trump’s alma mater, as it appeared likely that Trump would win the election, a student described a “miserable and most depressing scene.” How could some of the supposedly smartest students in America, schooled on the most elite of college campuses be so befuddled? What happened? Were they really so stupid, or had they perhaps been dumbed-down by their rarefied environment and media predictions based on misleading polls? To read more about misleading polls, click here. The answer can be found in a better understanding of the way the brain selects information from the environment, assesses it for accuracy, and reconciles it with pre-existing beliefs.

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The Show Must Go On! The War on Terrorism and Other Escalations of Commitment

April 17th, 2017 3 comments

https://i.ytimg.com

We are in the 16th year of the War on Terrorism and less than a week ago, Donald Trump raised the stakes by bombing Syria and Afganistan. The Afganistan bombing was the largest non-nuclear bomb deployed in the history of the United States. When confronted about the decision, Trump referred to the dropping of the 30 ft, 11 ton MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) on an Islamic State cave and tunnel complex as a, “very, very successful mission.” Successful by what means? Every decision by the past three presidents to further engage in this war has led to more US soldier and Middle Eastern civilian casualties and we have made no steps towards conflict resolution. If this sort of stubborn persistence seems familiar that’s because this kind of error has been repeated throughout history as seen in the Vietnam War, in economic bailouts, and in failed skyscraper building projects just to name a few. This behavioral error is a cognitive bias known as escalation of commitment, or the Sunk Cost Effect.

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Presidential election vs bilingualism: how does the framing effect impact our decision-making

April 17th, 2017 2 comments

Are you a logical thinker?

If you are a human being with a healthy dose of confidence, your answer is most likely “Sure, I use logic most of the time.” Or, if you identify with the virtue of modesty, you would probably say, “No guarantees, but I make my best effort.” If either of the above describes you, at one point or another the election of the 45th U.S. president was probably among the biggest mysteries for you. Hillary Clinton sure has had her fair share of scandals and hypocrisy, but so do many seasoned politicians; Donald Trump, on the other hand, had no political experience, more than a handful racist, sexist, and xenophobic statements, and multiple alleged sexual assaults. Furthermore, because of his background, Donald Trump is also under a lot of suspicion of abusing power for personal gains. How on earth did Donald Trump turn out so much more appealing in a presidential election?

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