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Here's a good one: Berkeley study blames readers for political bias

Some new research just out from Berkeley asserts that when people read research results that conflict with their own existing opinions, they not only doubt the conclusions' truth but they question the researchers' objectivity.

So, for instance, if you think Barack Obama is a post-partisan, bipartisan wunderkinThe seal of UC Berkeleyd change agent and you read something somewhere that suggests otherwise, you'll be incapable of reconsidering your viewpoint and will instead perceive bias in the messenger. Or vice versa about George W. Bush.

Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?

In other words, researchers have somehow hocus-pocus magically determined that when they scientifically do a study as professionals, using standard protocols and long-accepted procedures of social science research, and highly intelligent readers discover the findings conflict with their existing beliefs, the readers refuse to objectively re-examine their own beliefs.

That would somehow be too scary or threatening or something.

Instead, the readers proceed to question the research findings. And then they question the finders' objectivity. Because the readers couldn't possibly be wrong or unobjective.

Here's a cockamamie quote from one of the study's co-authors:

"Findings that support our political beliefs are seen as objective facts about the world," said Robert MacCoun, a UC Berkeley professor of public policy, law and psychology. "But study outcomes that conflict with our views are more likely to be seen as expressions of an ideological bias by the researcher."

MacCoun suggests the results of their random telephone survey of 1,050 adults in California (well, there's some bias right there) raise implications for modern-day social science researchers whose stupid findings like this may not be taken seriously because of a built-in public bias to stick with our rigid existing beliefs about how smart we each already are even without any new information.

MacCoun was assisted by an equally silly co-author, Susannah Paletz. They'll publish their findings any day now in the journal Political Psychology.

Next thing you know, these Bay Area wonders will try to convince us that this applies to people who write and read politics blogs, that somehow writers and readers tend to see in blog items what they want to see and believe and that confirms their own thoughts, and they then reject the rest as hokum inserted by biased bloggers or university researchers.

What a load! Everybody with any intelligence knows those Berkeley researchers with their goatees (not Susannah) and turtleneck sweaters and liberal lattes are obviously the biased ones. They couldn't find an objective fact if FedEx delivered it overnight.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Comments () | Archives (9)

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You are totally hilarious!! This is my absolute favorite political blog.

This is sarcasm, right?

One of the worst articles I have ever read...

Of course these Berkley researchers are wrong.

I conducted my own survey recently by reading 157 blogs and articles that disagreed with me. And every single one of them was wrong!

I was objective in my study - and even re-examined my beliefs. I thought one article might be right but after long and painful re-examination of my beliefs, I realized the author had missed the point entirely.

Here are the results of my survey:
17% of the authors flat out lied about stuff
21% of the authors missed the point
28% of the authors didn't know the real facts
34% of the authors were too stupid to be credible

These Berkley researchers obviously don't know the real facts!

Ya, this is where our grant money goes.

Actually I don't know if they got grant money for this, but anyway...

So ya, we are supposed to trust everything scientists say. So whenever two contradictory studies come out we are supposed to obediently believe both.

This is actually a social experiment. To try and make it so that science is elevated to the status of religion.

Obviously no scientific study has ever been wrong let alone fraudulent because scientists pass through this secret device that renders them incapable of lying or making mistakes.

Whenever two scientists/studies conflict, we are just not being creative enough to agree with both.

Coffee causes cancer. Coffee prevents cancer.

We were always at war with east asia.

I do not believe this article.
I prefer to continue believing what i already believed in.

I do not believe this article.
I prefer to continue believing what i already believed in.

This must be sarcasm, but it's so consistent throughout the post that I'm not 100 percent sure.

I'm not sure sarcasm is the best rhetorical tool, since so many people think the media "is" biased. A lot of people probably would benefit from taking the study seriously.

"One of the worst articles I have ever read..." Mir

Yes, it proves that the jedi mind-trick study has vetted your biasness
to be predisposed toward the Golden Bear. Thus, your response was predictable.

"naïve realism (where people believe others with
different beliefs are not reality-based)"

Research explores policy research and impressions of bias
By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 03 February 2009


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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