Tuesday, June 21, 2016


We know about confirmation bias. It is all too easy (even fun) to look for evidence that confirms our priors. Psychologists (and others) can explain. I guess.

Knowing all this, what can be done?  We can make an honest effort to consider the positions of those who are not like-minded. I have a lot of respect for Arnold Kling who wants to take "the most charitable view of those who disagree."

I have several times cited the LA Times' (30-plus-years late)  realization that the data on actual ridership undermine that newspapers' attachment to rail transit for Los Angeles. Hallelujah.

Not so fast. This morning's lead editorial regresses.  "Nearly 50 years ago, Los Angeles County voters rejected a half-cent sales tax proposal that would have built an 89-mile rail and bus network between downtown, Long Beach, the San Fernando Valley and Westwood, the San Gabriel Valley, and even a route to LAX. The Times Editorial Board at that time urged a no vote, saying “we are an automotive people, unlikely to change our habits.” Imagine if voters had said yes? How many hours of congestion might have been avoided? How much pollution might have been prevented? Now, five decades later, our habits will have to change, one way or another." Once again, here is what some of my friends said about that proposal at the time.

My previous post on "Not just the toadies" notes that many smart people resist evidence that does not satisfy them even if they found (and reported) that evidence. Confirmation bias is not so easily turned off. So can psychologists explain? Or are they subject to the same demons?


The usual suspects want more from the taxpayers.  The usual suspects spin the usual stories.  Here Moore and Rubin respond.