Battlepanda: Stupider humans


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stupider humans

Continuing the theme of scientific experiment telling us what we don't want to hear about ourselves, here's a study showing what we perhaps suspected all along: partisans see bias, even where there is none.
There was only one thing on which pro-Israeli and pro-Arab audiences agreed. Both were certain that media coverage in the United States was hopelessly biased in favor of the other side. [snip]

Partisans, it turns out, don't just arrive at different conclusions; they see entirely different worlds . In one especially telling experiment, researchers showed 144 observers six television news segments about Israel's 1982 war with Lebanon.

Pro-Arab viewers heard 42 references that painted Israel in a positive light and 26 references that painted Israel unfavorably.

Pro-Israeli viewers, who watched the very same clips, spotted 16 references that painted Israel positively and 57 references that painted Israel negatively.

Both groups were certain they were right and that the other side didn't know what it was talking about.
Kevin Drums dubs this "the hostile media syndrome", which I think is apt. Of course, those in the media well-knows this phenomenon, hence the old, maddeningly smug and truthy adage that if you're catching flak from both sides, you must be doing something right. Frankly, following this "fair-and-balanced" approach frequently results not in true neutrality, but a kind of vapid he-said she-said brand of reporting, always frightened stiffed of the charge of "bias!" I much prefer the system in England where you've got many newspapers and you know where they're coming from. The Daily Telegraph is not called the Daily Torygraph for nothing; the Guardian makes no bones about leaning left; and the Sun is objectively-pro topless girls on page 3.