The problem of bias

The problem of bias
Some paper has a noticeable "grain" – 
folding or tearing it one way is easy, 
but folding or tearing it against the grain 
creates a rough, broken, inconsistent edge.

Paper is not the only thing that’s more comfortable when going a certain way.

Here’s an example.

College economics professor Daniel B. Klein wrote an article based on a survey that said that on basic economic questions, the left wing in America was more ignorant than either the right-wing or libertarians. Being a libertarian himself, he said he:

"…found it easy to believe that people on the left had an especially bad grasp of economics."

But another survey caused him to change his mind:

"The new results invalidated our original result: under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions. The proper inference from our work is not that one group is more enlightened, or less. It’s that "myside bias"the tendency to judge a statement according to how conveniently it fits with one’s settled positionis pervasive among all of America’s political groups. The bias is seen in the data, and in my actions."

What he discovered is a pervasive confirmation bias – every group believes things which confirm that they are correct:

"…no group clearly out-stupids the others. They appear about equally stupid when faced with proper challenges to their position."

Read his article: I Was Wrong, and So Are You. A libertarian economist retracts a swipe at the leftafter discovering that our political leanings leave us more biased than we think. The Atlantic Magazine>>
– Paper grain illustration taken from Graphic Communications Today, by William E. Ryan, Theodore E. Conover>>

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