Seduced By Our Predispositions

Sochi rings.jpg

Contrary to what you may have heard, the technician responsible for the infamous "ring malfunction" during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics was not found dead in his hotel room with multiple stab wounds. 

That did not stop the bogus news item from "going viral," however, because many people were predisposed to believing it. The story fed our Boris Badenov fixation. It fit in with everything we know about Putin's anti-gay statements and the killing of stray dogs.

Similar predispositions seduce us constantly, impacting our judgment.

If you loved Philip Seymour Hoffman, he was a creative genius who succumbed to his demons; if you don't, he was a schlubby heroin addict who cheated on his wife.

Can't stand Chris Christie? Then certainly he masterminded Bridgegate. Hate the president? Then Obamacare both sucks and blows.

Worse yet, we know these things are true, because all our friends on Facebook tell us so. And we're far too smart to be influenced by contrary evidence or opinions. 

The Internet promised to make us smarter, exposing us to richer information and a broader mix of views. Instead it often merely galvanizes our predispositions, without us even knowing. 

If you don't believe me, just Google it. 

SEDUCED BY OUR ENMITY (2/25/14): It turns out that the Goldman Sachs Elevator Twitter account, which reports nasty bits of gossip overheard on GS elevators, is authored by a guy in Texas, who has never worked at Goldman Sachs. 

WHAT, ME BIASED? (2/26/14): New research study confirms: We are blind to our own biases.