Author Topic: Partisanism  (Read 2408 times)

May 23, 2013, 12:18:00 PM

Offline guest1

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Partisanism
« on: May 23, 2013, 12:18:00 PM »
Interesting to see how we can be manipulated without even realizing it.  Maybe the way to get through this close minded train of thought is to understand it.

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"A recent imaging study by psychologist Drew Westen and his colleagues at Emory University provides firm support for the existence of emotional reasoning. Just prior to the 2004 Bush-Kerry presidential elections, two groups of subjects were recruited - fifteen ardent Democrats and fifteen ardent Republicans. Each was presented with conflicting and seemingly damaging statements about their candidate, as well as about more neutral targets... Unsurprisingly, when the participants were asked to draw a logical conclusion about a candidate from the other - "wrong" - political party, the participants found a way to arrive at a conclusion that made the candidate look bad, even though logic should have mitigated the particular circumstances and allowed them to reach a different conclusion. Here's where it gets interesting.

When this "emote control" began to occur, parts of the brain normally involved in reasoning were not activated. Instead, a constellation of activations occurred in the same areas of the brain where punishment, pain, and negative emotions are experienced (that is, in the left insula, lateral frontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex). Once a way was found to ignore information that could not be rationally discounted, the neural punishment areas turned off, and the participant received a blast of activation in the circuits involving rewards - akin to the high an addict receives when getting his fix.

Ultimately, Westen and his colleagues believe that "emotionally biased reasoning leads to the 'stamping in' or reinforcement of a defensive belief, associating the participant's 'revisionist' account of the data with positive emotion or relief and elimination of distress. 'The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data,'" Westen says. Westen's remarkable study showed that neural information processing related to what he terms "motivated reasoning" ... appears to be qualitatively different from reasoning when a person has no strong emotional stake in the conclusions to be reached.

The study is thus the first to describe the neural processes that underlie political judgment and decision making, as well as to describe processes involving emote control, psychological defense, confirmatory bias, and some forms of cognitive dissonance. The significance of these findings ranges beyond the study of politics..."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Westen
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May 23, 2013, 10:11:02 PMReply #1

Offline guest1

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Re: Partisanism
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 10:11:02 PM »
I just read the Wikipedia article.  In my opinion, what a waste of money.  This information was already known - those with any bias, no matter how apparent or otherwise, will always seek that which conforms to their own bias.  Whether this has anything to do with rationality, logic, or anything else, has little or no bearing on the fact.  If a person has a particular truth or reality, then they will find whatever is needed to reinforce, maintain, enhance and allow for expounding of their belief, truth, or realty.  The same applies for those seeking to discredit or mitigate such beliefs in the belief their concept or idea or belief is the truer.

The Law of Affinity plays a very significant part here.

May 24, 2013, 02:56:04 AMReply #2

Offline guest1

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Re: Partisanism
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 02:56:04 AM »
Very interesting topics, impartiality and partisan-ism, you've just raised here, Diane. Will address this in more detail within the next few days as I find the time.

May 24, 2013, 09:33:54 AMReply #3

Offline guest1

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Re: Partisanism
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2013, 09:33:54 AM »
I just read the Wikipedia article.  In my opinion, what a waste of money.  This information was already known - those with any bias, no matter how apparent or otherwise, will always seek that which conforms to their own bias.  Whether this has anything to do with rationality, logic, or anything else, has little or no bearing on the fact.  If a person has a particular truth or reality, then they will find whatever is needed to reinforce, maintain, enhance and allow for expounding of their belief, truth, or realty.  The same applies for those seeking to discredit or mitigate such beliefs in the belief their concept or idea or belief is the truer.

The Law of Affinity plays a very significant part here.

Don't you think though that ridding oneself of bias is very important?  To see it for what it is as a barrier that prevents you from getting to the truth?  Then we have to ask ourselves what is more important our bias or the truth?  It may not be the best example, but Galileo came to my mind.  Was it the Law of Affinity that got him into so much trouble?  He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. 

I've found that many people will hold to their partisan beliefs, bias, etc., even when confronted directly with such overwhelming facts, (real facts not hearsay or rhetoric), that it completely blew me away.  It was as though their brains just shut down.  I ask myself why do some see only what they want to see?  Do we say it's The Law of Affinity and all of the arguing back and forth is just a useless exercise?

I've seen where being confronted with the overwhelming facts and truth that some can "see", (or even just consider another opinion), but others will never bend from their set side of the fence no matter what.  Like a bomb could go off in their living room, and you can show them an unedited video of their candidate flying the plane over their house and dropping the bomb, but they refuse to believe it.  Blows my mind, and fascinates me at the same time.  The brain seems to always hide in it's "safe place", rather than confront certain realities.

May 25, 2013, 04:30:06 AMReply #4

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Re: Partisanism
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2013, 04:30:06 AM »
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Don't you think though that ridding oneself of bias is very important?

Indeed I do, particularly if that bias happens to be negative from my perspective.

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To see it for what it is as a barrier that prevents you from getting to the truth?

That depends entirely upon the receiver's perception of truth as it relates to their reality.

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Then we have to ask ourselves what is more important our bias or the truth?

I would have to argue here that an individual's bias is their truth; their reality.  It is just as conceivable that the receiver's truth will be construed as bias by the originator.

Using your example of Galileo: in the example you give
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He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. 
The historical presumption here is that Galileo concurred with the Inquisitors and believed what they said (their particular bias at the time).  Because history is always written by the victors, this is what has been portrayed.  However, this is from their [the victors] perspective and not from Galileo's point of bias [view].

Galileo was forced to follow the dictates of both his captives and the mind set of the majority during that time period in which he lived.  As we all know, it wasn't until some time later that his ideas, concepts, and beliefs, became accepted, and this only because there were others who followed his philosophies and/or ideologies.

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Was it the Law of Affinity that got him into so much trouble?

To some degree, I believe that is the case.  His faith in his ideology was such that as ideas began to formulate within his mind, processes were set into motion that enabled him to be in the right place at the right time allowing him to accumulate the necessary information and technology to consolidate and validate his ideas (theories) - these were proven at a much later date by others, as we know.

It just so happened Galileo lived in a time period that refused to accept such ideologies, as it ran contrary to the belief systems at the time.  Thus the Law of Consequences came into play.  The consequences of his predisposition towards invention (of gadgets and ideas) got him into strife with the church, in particular.  Most people, according to the history books, were illiterate, unlearned and simple folk who were not in a position to grasp much of what he had to say and offer; whose lives were filled with superstitions of one kind or another.  However, those in charge of society at that time, were also filled with superstitions, but not so simple (in their minds) as the vast majority.  In order to maintain their grasp and control, they would naturally have to limit any form of ideology contrary to their own to such an extent that ideas that would disprove anything they said would need to be immediately countered and dealt with.  As we know, some were silenced through coercion, like Galileo, others were killed in one form or another (witches spring to mind here) or straight out murdered.

The collective bias at the time was also the collective truth of the time.

A more modern example would be the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War 2.  The atrocities that went on there, right under the noses of the Germans, were diabolical, yet the collective bias of the German people, especially those living near to this camp, was, in modern times, unbelievable.  People chose not to see what was going on under their noses simply because they chose not to see or believe.  Yet many of the men and women who carried out those atrocities believed that what they were doing was righteous and good.

I could quote examples of the same sorts of things (to a greater or lesser degree) happening in every single country on this planet, right to today.

The point I am trying to make here is that we are basically governed by our biases, our beliefs, our ideologies, our individual and collective truths and realities.

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I've found that many people will hold to their partisan beliefs, bias, etc., even when confronted directly with such overwhelming facts, (real facts not hearsay or rhetoric), that it completely blew me away.  It was as though their brains just shut down.

Sadly this sort of thing is still the norm.  The good thing here is that there are those who refuse to take this line and endeavour to make people see truth in a better light.  These people go completely against the grain of social mores much of the time and, in some cases, pay very dearly for their beliefs/bias.

There are sound reasons for this sort of behaviour, but this is something best left to other threads and other times.

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I ask myself why do some see only what they want to see?

I would counter this by saying we all see what we want to see.  Some have great capacity to see things more clearly, whilst other are limited.

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Do we say it's The Law of Affinity and all of the arguing back and forth is just a useless exercise?

Of course it is the Law of Affinity in its fullest sense; including Attraction, Opposites, Consequences, Correspondences, etc.  As for arguing back and forth being a useless exercise, I have to wonder how this could be so.  Such arguments, if done constructively, allow everyone the opportunity to expand their own awareness, understanding, bias, belief systems, and so forth, for the betterment of not only themselves, but their entire community, and possibly the entire world.  This, no matter what the outcome may be.

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I've seen where being confronted with the overwhelming....

An absolutely spot on analogy Diane.  Thank you.  I, too, have seen this same thing far too many times.  And even when the smoke and carnage has cleared away, they still stand in disbelief that such a thing could possibly happen!

May 29, 2013, 03:28:38 AMReply #5

Offline guest1

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Re: Partisanism
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2013, 03:28:38 AM »
Often there are more than two sides of an argument, but for a moment pretend there are only two, or pick a debate where there are only two known sides. Most likely, you already favor one side over the other, if not completely, than at least partially. To begin to try to overcome bias, partisan thinking and attain greater degrees of impartiality attempt the following exercise: make yourself think and feel that you favor the side of the argument you are least inclined towards. This means telling yourself, or forgetting, all the good points and feelings that inclined you towards your original inclined side. Forget that you really know or truly understand anything at all about the subject you are dealing with. Once these things have been forgotten, blindly feel and believe that the opposing side you originally disfavored is now completely right in every way, while the original side you agreed with is completely wrong. Think completely then in favor of the opposing side, concocting logical arguments in its favor, and dismantling arguments made when you once stood on the opposing side. Strengthen the defensive arguments made that you once attacked, truly feel why all these are good, playing the part in every way.

Write down all the aspects you were blind to before, or that you once refused to acknowledge in this opposing side. Once this has been thoroughly felt and experimented with, after hours or days depending on your success in the exercise, wipe out and forget everything you just concocted on the opposite side and return to your previous bias. You may feel now a little uncomfortable in some of your weaker arguments and assumptions that were lazily adopted without too much testing. No matter, go back full into your original bias without yet questioning the real Truth of the matter. Only attempt to shore up and strengthen the original bias, discarding arguments that you know are weak, reinforce those that can be reinforced, and answer every new argument the other side came up with that you wrote down in that position. If you do this with enough vigor and concentration, you will find that the understanding of the original and opposing bias has grown considerably.

Now, take a break from this and repeat the process again, completely forgetting everything you had just learned; returning to the opposing side, answering all new arguments and strengthening weakened ones. Once you feel proficient enough in the process, you can debate yourself in real time, going back and forth in bias and argument without an attachment to one side or the other. If the desire for Truth is strong enough, either one side will eventually win out as being closer to the Truth, or more likely, a third an a fourth side will emerge that will contain elements of the original two sides, but will be beyond the depth of both. At this point you can have multileveled arguments that further whittle away assumption and prejudice while forming philosophical systems that are either completely new or are little understood by most. And in unattachment to any of these things you rest your mind on, you are happy to be wrong, because this only provides an opportunity for advancement and learning. You only rest on an argument for so long as it makes the most sense at the present time, looking forward to be proven wrong and learning something new. Thus is attachment for a particular 'side' discarded for attachment to Truth, wherever it leads in the process of open-minded learning and growth.

As to overcoming bias and partisanship in others, that is a different and much more difficult subject...