The following is an excerpt from BBEN TAPPIN, LESLIE VAN DER LEER and RYAN MCKAY | MAY 27, 2017 | Nytimes.com |
A troubling feature of political disagreement in the United States today is that many issues on which liberals and conservatives hold divergent views are questions not of value but of fact. Is human activity responsible for global warming? Do guns make society safer? Is immigration harmful to the economy? Though undoubtedly complicated, these questions turn on empirical evidence. As new information emerges, we ought to move, however fitfully, toward consensus.
But we don’t. Unfortunately, people do not always revise their beliefs in light of new information. On the contrary, they often stubbornly maintain their views. Certain disagreements stay entrenched and polarized.
Why? A common explanation is confirmation bias. This is the psychological tendency to favor information that confirms our beliefs and to disfavor information that counters them — a tendency manifested in the echo chambers and “filter bubbles” of the online world.
If this explanation is right, then there is a relatively straightforward solution to political polarization: We need to consciously expose ourselves to evidence that challenges our beliefs to compensate for our inclination to discount it.
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