Science: Liberals Suffer From Confirmation Bias Even If They Pretend Otherwise

  1. Home
  2. Culture Wars
By Ian Miles Cheong | 5:14 pm, April 29, 2017
Read More

Stephen Colbert popularized the phrase, “It’s a well-known fact that reality has a liberal bias.” It’s the kind of sloganeering that’s caused many a progressive liberal to adopt a smug, self-satisfied view of the world with a sense of certainty that stands unfaltering—until faced with dissent.

New research (via New Scientist) shows that leftists are every bit as deluded those they mock, and that they’re just as prone to confirmation bias as their political opponents. A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that both liberals and conservatives are equally likely to dismiss opposing viewpoints on contentious issues like gun control, climate change, and abortion.

March for Science

Members from either end of the ideological spectrum are similarly motivated to avoid information that conflicts with their own beliefs. Participants in the study anticipated that “crosscutting information” would cause them frustration and harm their relationships with others. They went out of their way to avoid the topic—even turning down a chance to win money to avoid hearing opinions they disliked. No one wants to listen to the other side.

On the Social Science Research Network, a meta-analysis based on 41 experimental studies of partisan bias in both liberals and conservatives arrived at similar conclusions. The findings concluded that bias is a bipartisan problem, and that leftists are just as prone to indulging in confirmation bias to the same extent as their conservative counterparts.

Given that progressives often tout themselves as purveyors of science and education, partaking in events like the recent March for Science, one would expect them to readily embrace scientific views.

However, this isn’t the case. As New Scientist points out, Seattle, a city that voted 87 percent for Hillary Clinton and stands as one of the most educated in the US, has a polio vaccination rate lower than that of Rwanda, a third-world country ravaged by poverty and lack of education. The city is—as writer Alex Berezow notes—not “terribly fond of biotechnology, rejecting GMOs, and even vaccines.”

Far from being the “party of science,” the Left is just as prone to embracing “alternative facts” as much as anyone who buys into fringe fears over water fluoridation and chemtrails.

Studies that show how “microaggressions” are not scientifically supported are adamantly rejected by those who claim to have science on their side. Science, it seems, is no longer a tool for understanding how the world works, but a cudgel to hammer your opponents’ heads with.

Worse still, progressives on college campuses have created safe spaces to insulate themselves from outside views. Conflicting views that might upset them are often censored, and labeled “violence” Dissenting speakers are silenced, and have their views labeled as “too controversial.”

If opinions are to have any intellectual merit, they must be open to free inquiry and not simply accepted as articles of faith.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.