Sunday, September 21, 2008

Political Bias

I have been reading lots of polemical political articles, mostly anti-republican, because I get most of my news from liberal sources like NPR and NYTimes, I hear tons of outrage and condescension dripping from every word. And for each and every fault of the Republicans they list, I automatically can name two or more equivalent faults of the Democrats.

Half of republicans think Obama may be Muslim?
(First, not entirely crazy, by definition, his father is Muslim which makes him Muslim. And he did attend Muslim schools in Indoensia.)
But agreed, it is mostly crazy. But half of democrats hold the crazier idea that Bush may have helped plan 9/11.

Sexual impropriety and potential tit-for-tat at the Dept of Interior?
But wasn't that the same behavior happily overlooked in the Clinton White House. It also annoys me that most of the mistakes that led to billion dollar windfalls for Big Oil occurred in 1998 during the Clinton administration, a fact neglected in every nytimes article on the subject.

Poor grades by Palin and McCain?
But Kerry and and Gore had worse grades than even George W Bush, but nobody cared then. (Gore failed out of grad school twice, getting F's in a majority of his classes the first time)

Anyway, I can go on. But makes me wonder if anyone really can hold an unbiased view. The most important paper I've ever read was by Lord Ross and Lepper which found that people are really good at seeing the flaws in arguments that go against their preconceived beliefs, but tend to overlook the flaws in arguments that support their own. Hence the value of adversarial systems.

So, just as the flaws in the NYTimes are so clear to me, a bit further reflection makes me know that there are probably just as many flaws in my own thinking.

Which I suppose just implies a need for greater humility (and why I think people really aren't qualified to judge candidates). Greater dialog. Greater openness and greater respect.
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