Vay wrote:In the media, this translates to giving both sides equal representation as opposed to giving them appropriate representation. I realize it's more complicated than just that - with the rise of Internet media, there's no budget for extensive fact-checking, journalists don't get the respect as professionals (nor are they held to the code of professionalism) as they used to and so on. (On this topic, I recommend Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload.)
I guess the easiest style of journalism is presenting the two dominant voices, regardless of how far from the truth either one strays. True relativism at its best. In fact, some journalists might even consider it their duty to show absolutely no favor. Maybe sort of like a judge in a criminal case, where the guy might be guilty as hell, but the judge has to let him spew out a ridiculous defense and give him his fair shot.
I guess there's always http://www.factcheck.org, but when was the last time anyone actually visited that website? Maybe consumers don't actually want the facts. We want mayhem and controversy. Facts just don't sell newspapers the same way controversy sells newspapers. So the media industry might be a bit complicit in wanting to stir the pot.
Vay wrote:But as for where the conservatives go wrong, frankly their problem is a lot more serious. Research has shown that on science/tech issues where liberals are likely to be ideologically biased (such as GMO's or nuclear power), their bias decreases as they are better educated, whereas with conservative, their bias actually increases with education!
The Republican Brain: Why Even Educated Conservatives Deny Science -- and Reality
The title is a tad lame and not entirely representative of the content, which is worth a read. Basically, ideology-driven confirmation bias seems to get a stronger grip on conservatives with increased education, whereas the reverse is true with liberals. Reminds me of Michael Shermer: "Smart people believe weird things because they are better adept at justifying things they came to believe for non-smart reasons."
Incidentally, here's a more recent study with similar findings:
Once again, with feeling: More science will not cure climate skepticism
That's really interesting. I've never come across these before, it's great to see someone has actually put some research into explaining this phenomenon.
I've always been a bit shy of making this argument, simply because I know how ridiculous it sounds for a liberal to say conservatives are biased, dogmatic and ideological. The argument is so self serving it's not even worth stating, even if it's true.
But I agree that today there are a lot of people, particularly on the right wing, that are doing a terrible disservice to the country and the world by treating truth-seeking with such utter contempt. Our public discourse is so warped. Has this the way it has always been? I don't think so, it feels like we've sunk to such cynical levels only recently. Somehow, I feel like the strength of democratic society is less the formal structures of governance and more the informal cultural norms that are incubated under democratic governance. But when you see truth-seeking being thrown to the curb so willfully by entire segments of the political spectrum, it does make you wonder if we are degrading the democratic culture that we inherited and wonder what that means for western democratic culture.
Today we sort of have this toxic perfect storm- the degrading of political discourse with entertainment talk radio/TV such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox (supplanting more respectable and reasoned intellectual leadership on the right), big time billionaire type money supporting whoever is willing to push the right wing agenda, and the demographic characteristics of red states in the US which are easy to exploit by right wing politicians.
I've felt that liberals have always been on the defensive for the last 30 years. Liberals are afraid to even be called liberal. They do everything they can to avoid being perceived as liberal. Whereas conservatives are proud of what they are, no matter how extreme. So this is another wierd phenomenon. The total lack of moral and intellectual leadership on the left in terms of establishing a liberal agenda and standing up for it. At least the conservatives don't have that problem.