On a restless night, a podcast is my solution to kicking those thoughts down the road that are useless.
Here is this week's favorite. The transcript provided begins with a prior discussion...a basis for this current conversation... so typical of a OPP thread. https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/the-double-standard/
The transcript below may be for an earlier version of this episode. Our transcripts are provided by various partners and may contain errors or deviate slightly from the audio.
Shankar Vedantam: This is Hidden Brain. I'm Shankar Vedantam. When you look at the partisan divisions in the United States and other countries, you see something curious.
Speaker 2: There's a bias, a double standard. It's always there. It pervades our society.
Shankar Vedantam: It's not just that each side accuses the other of bias.
Speaker 3: Right-wing media isn't doing journalism, it's doing fan fiction.
Speaker 2: The left can insult people, the left can make outrageous statements, nothing happens. Oh, it's different on the right.
Shankar Vedantam: They accuse one another of the same kinds of bias.
Speaker 2: All the staff members at the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, they're like cornered, rabid rats, they've been selling us lies for so many years.
Speaker 4: The Americans who listen to Fox News and conservative talk radio are being lied to and manipulated every day.
Shankar Vedantam: Each side says the other is blind to facts, blind to reason.
Speaker 5: Look, we're taking on a Republican party that has rejected science, where the vast majority of Republican congressmen and senators do not even accept the reality of climate change, let alone the new...
Speaker 6: This is a metaphor really for the left's entire program, which is built entirely on denying reality, they deny the reality of illegal immigration, they deny the reality of terrorism, they deny the reality of biological gender.
Shankar Vedantam: You see the same thing in many other conflicts around the world. Each side accuses the other of inflexibility and ideological blindness. Now, there are certainly situations where one side is right and the other is wrong. One side is biased, and the other is not, or at least less so. Our focus today, though, is not on specific controversies rather, we want to explore the psychological mechanisms that prompt us to judge our own behavior very differently than the behavior of other people. This week on Hidden Brain, the double standard inside our heads.
Shankar Vedantam: On a daily basis, all of us evaluate others. We think about the claims of people who want to sell us something, we gauge the ideas of colleagues, we assess friends and family. We also regularly look into our own hearts and minds. We evaluate ourselves. At Princeton University, psychologist Emily Pronin has studied why our minds come to very different conclusions about ourselves and others. Emily Pronin, welcome to Hidden Brain.
Emily Pronin: Thank you, Shankar.
Shankar Vedantam: So, a few years ago, Emily, you conducted an experiment where you brought volunteers into a lab and you told them about a range of different biases, biases like the halo effect, where you see someone who's very beautiful, and you assume this person must also be very intelligent. Or a bias like confirmation bias, where we go looking for information that supports our pre-existing views. And you did something very interesting. You asked the volunteers whether they thought that they would fall prey to these biases. What did they tell you?
Emily Pronin: We had students in a class, so that they kind of all knew each other from being in the class together. And what we did is we described each bias just in a few sentences. We didn't use the word bias. We didn't want to make it sound like a negative thing, so that people would say, "That's bad. I don't do that." We just described it in neutral terms: "Sometimes people do this, do you do this?" And what we found is that people said, "Oh, gee, other people do do that. That's so great. You put that into words like that. I see that all the time.Someone's really attractive, and then they think that person is great on every dimension. But me I know, I don't really do that."
Emily Pronin: So what happened was people recognized the bias as something that people do, and they attributed it to other people, but they thought that they did it quite a bit less.
Shankar Vedantam: And the same thing happens in so many different domains. If you asked me, do you evaluate the news fairly? Are you a good judge of policy? I'll tell you, of course I am. But I can see lots of biases in the people around me. Emily, you call this the bias blind spot, what do you mean by the term?
Emily Pronin: The reason why I came to call it a bias blind spot is that a blind spot refers to a situation where you can see something all around you except in one place. And so the blind spot is seeing the bias in yourself, because it turns out that people could readily recognize these biases all around them.
Shankar Vedantam: Let's look at some specific domains where the bias blind spot affects us. When it comes to ethics, we're all quick to see conflict of interest in other people, but slow to see it when it comes to ourselves.
Emily Pronin: It's such a beautiful example. So, doctors and gifts from the pharmaceutical industry, so people have studied this. And doctors will say, "I'm not influenced by gifts." And oftentimes the gifts are small, right? They're like, you have a Pfizer pen or pad of paper. Sometimes the gifts are rather large, like, "We'd love to hear you come and give a talk on your research in the Caribbean, we'll fly you over there in a private jet to give your talk."
Emily Pronin: And a credit to the medical industry that I think they've really worked on trying to root this out because they recognized it as a problem, so there's no longer free lunches for residents every day sponsored by various drug companies as far as I understand. But the point being the doctor said that they were not influenced by these gifts, but that other doctors were. So it's a perfect example of a conflict of interest not being recognized in self, but seen in others.
Shankar Vedantam: The bias blind spot also affects how we think we are affected by marketing, and how we think others are affected by marketing. I want to play you a clip for an ad that I recently came by.