It is amazing how good we are — even the smartest, most rational people among us — at not recognizing our own biases. (Danny Kahneman memorably calls this being “blind to our blindness.”)
We recently put out a podcast called “The Truth Is Out There … Isn’t It?” about how people decide what to believe about everything from global warming and nuclear risk to UFO’s. It was inspired by the research of Dan Kahan and his colleagues at the Cultural Cognition Project; they have found that we systematically filter our beliefs through our personal and political filters. In other words, we allow our biases to influence what we think about theoretically non-ideological issues, but we aren’t aware of that influence.
Q. Why does liberal media bias exist in the first place? What would you suggest as a way that a) journalists could be more aware of their own bias and limit it in their reporting; or b) the profession of journalism could attract a more unbiased (or merely more representative) cohort? – Jack
As the title suggests, it has a definite conservative slant. It is not, however, a right-wing rant by any means. Rather, it is a carefully researched and amusingly written book by a highly regarded academic.
Groseclose’s core argument is that the U.S. media overall has a strong liberal bias, and that this bias strongly influences how Americans vote and how they think about the issues of the day. He reached this conclusion by constructing a “political quotient” (PQ), which is meant to measure political views in a “precise, objective, and quantitative way.” The average American voter, he argues, has a PQ of 50. Liberal Democrats Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi both have a PQ of approximately 100; conservative Republicans Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint have a PQ of approximately 0. If we could “magically eliminate liberal media bias,” Groseclose writes, the average American would have a PQ closer to 25, and would be more in line with people like Ben Stein, Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly.
My good friend and co-author Tim Groseclose has a new book out entitled Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. As the title suggests, it has a definite conservative slant. It is not, however, a right-wing rant by any means. Rather, it is a carefully researched and amusingly written book by a highly regarded academic.
I’m bored to death by politics. So I didn’t expect to enjoy Groseclose’s book, but I really did. I’m always surprised when an academic can write for a general audience, but Groseclose definitely has that gift.
As I said in my blurb for his book, liberals will not like what Groseclose has to say, but that is all the more reason why liberals should read his book.
On the surface, not much. The Kansas City Royals have lost 19 straight games and are threatening to break the all-time record for futility in major league baseball. My iPod, on the other hand, has quickly become one of my most beloved material possessions. So what do they have in common? They both can teach us a lesson about randomness. . . .