Authentic Authority, or Confirmation Bias?

Or both, I suppose. The argument is pretty plausible, and she cites a number of studies of the issue independent of her own argument. On the other hand, given her experience, she has to have a huge confirmation bias issue in terms of which stories (and studies) she finds believable.

My guess is that Vice found her article (a piece of fairly academic sociology) newsworthy just because of her experiences, which gives her an authentic voice to speak to the issue at hand. But isn't it that very authenticity that makes the probability of confirmation bias worse?

All of us have this cognitive bias, so it's no slur to suggest that she must be to some degree motivated by a universal human condition. Nor, I think, is the answer to find the story less newsworthy because it was written by someone with direct experience with the problem. Still, it's an interesting fact that the authenticity and the cognitive bias seem to ride on the same track. Increasing one increases the likelihood of the other, so that our most obvious authorities are also most likely to be wrong in this particular way? That's a frustrating realization.

1 comment:

E Hines said...

Women are raised under a different social incentive structure than men, where attitudes of compliance and deference to authority are more encouraged.

Maybe. But it's not been the case with the women with whom I've been associated, who've been not at all compliant or deferential, with the exception of three abused women--each of whom had developed coping mechanisms that were more deflective than compliant, and who generally stopped being even deflective after they escaped their abusive environments.

The anecdotal nature of both sides of this question would tend to support a claim of need for, or at least usefulness of, study. And of the role of abuse--and the type of abuse--in the nature of the attitudes.

Eric Hines