Tag Archives: confirmation bias

Mr. Carl Pham

I stole this off of Jonah Goldberg’s site from the comments section.  Mr. Pham was replying to a great article Jonah wrote regarding Confirmation Bias.  I thought this Individuals reply was clear and concise… easy to understand. And it goes a long way in explaining what has puzzled me for years, how can otherwise intelligent people subscribe to the Demonstrably worst Governing Theory the Planet has ever known?

I introduce you to Mr. Pham:

Carl Pham • 2 days ago (041214)

“Well, the problem with the leftist ideology is that even experts are likely to be more right than amateurs in very narrow circumstances. Id est, your car mechanic is more likely than you to know what that funny noise in the axle might be. But he is not more likely to know the best car for the money, or how to drive safely, or even whether this or that style of driving will make the engine last longer. (The engineer who built it will know that, but, conversely, probably not be tip-tip at diagnosing faults from signs and symptoms.)

Similarly, your English teacher can tell you whether your sentences are grammatically correct, but she probably has no clue whether your writing will sell. The mechanical engineer who designed a bridge can tell you whether it will stand up to X cars per day — but won’t be any smarter than you about whether there’ll be more or fewer cars following a three-day holiday.

And so on. The fact is, there’s no substance to the leftist prescription, because it’s only in very narrow circumstances that an expert’s opinion can be relied upon to be much better than a random concerned person, and you can’t stitch together all those narrow circumstances to come up with general guidance — it’d be like the old joke of five blind men who each touched a part of the elephant trying to describe the whole animal.

Of course, experts, like ordinary people, are very inclined to think they know more than they really do, so it is certainly possible to stitch together the advice of experts to get general guidance. That is the basis of the lefty religion.

It’s also what gave us global cooling in the 70s and warming in the 90s, the advice that butter was bad for you and margarine good, now reversed, and all the many other examples where expert consensus has been upended. It’s not that expert opinion isn’t reliable, it’s that the outer boundaries of its area of reliability are considerably smaller, as a rule, than the expert thinks.”

I have little to add here but Thanks to Mr. Carl Pham for his explanation.

Jonah’s full Article can be found here.  And, for full disclosure Jonah is one of my favorite authors… whether he is posting at National Review or Writing Incredibly insightful books.

Cheers.