Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Power of a Poor Point of View

The mind creates conclusions based on evidence that isn't there.

As a statistics major, the way people react to data fascinates me. In fact, the control of data is a powerful way to control opinion. When I spent a few weeks in China a few summers ago, I noticed that our tour guide would talk about recent Chinese history much more openly than I thought she might. I noticed that although she would freely admit that the world thought of Mao Zedong as
a monster, the Chinese held a different view. Despite her correct knowledge of history, which she displayed often, she had simply heard too much praise of the great leader for facts to change her mind.

I plan to study this idea in further detail. Among other things, some of the points I wish to discuss include:

  • Confirmation bias is real and powerful. 
  • Thanks to clickbait culture, articles are put in the spotlight not because of their credibility, but due to their sensationalism. Sensationalism rarely cares for facts, and can often lead to misconceptions.
  • Although previous generations also ignored or obscured truth (big tobacco being an excellent example), current technology and interconnection allows false ideas to spread much more effectively.
  • This distortion can lead to a view where isolated cases or studies are treated as the rule, not the exception. Kim Davis and the controversy surrounding her immediately comes to mind. 
  • Such misinformation can have disastrous results, such as climate change denial and the anti-vaccine movement. It can also cause disproportionate hatred toward target groups, including Muslims or the rich. 
After establishing these root causes of misinformation and bias, it becomes much easier to counter it in our own lives. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to bring the reader to find these faults in themselves, so they may begin to find a more perfect version of the truth. 


  1. This is a great argument. I think it's interesting how people base their opinion on pure facts and not their own thinking. I find myself doing that sometimes, then I think it through and realize that those facts were not all that sound, or didn't agree with what I personally felt. Technology, yes, is a huge way for this to happen, but it can be found anywhere. I think we just need to be careful with the information that we see floating around.

  2. I thought of this video while reading your post, and thought you might like the subtle counterpoint to your argument (and a laugh): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb07yVilJow