First-Hand Experience is Less Biased Than News

When someone sets aside their first-hand experience, statisticians are hoping – perhaps even assuming – that they rely on random sampling instead.  In the real world, however, almost no one does this.  For the vast majority of human beings, the alternative to first-hand experience is not statistics, but news.  And compared to news, first-hand experience is ultra-reliable, for a long list of reasons.

1. Random error.  Since the news is a vast industry, this might seem like a minor problem.  Due to severe media herding, however, the problem remains severe.  Journalists are not independent draws, but echoes in a vast echo chamber.

2. Selection bias.  Journalists are far from average humans.  They are highly-educated and highly-left-wing.  Even more importantly, they are desperately trying to grab people’s attention with shocking anecdotes and images.  What’s more, they have impressive resources to hunt down these shocking anecdotes and images.  The upshot is that media selection bias is literally off the charts.  What they choose to show is outside the first-hand experience all humans on Earth.  By which I mean that zero humans have personally experienced all – or even a tiny sliver – of the horrors on the news.

3. Availability bias.  After filtering reality through the biases of their ideology and need to grab people’s attention, journalists take the distillate and run it through yet another filter: their own memories.  So when they bring up old stories, or provide context for new stories, they are piling bias on bias.

As you may have heard, when you see moonshine marked “XXX,” this means that the liquid has been filtered three times.  Each filtration raises the alcohol content.  This is a fine metaphor for the media.  Journalists filter their experience over and over until they have a final product strong enough to make you blind.

By comparison, then, first-hand experience is a fountain of truth.  If statisticians tell you to fear something you’ve never experienced during decades of life, you may want to consider the possibility that you’ve led a charmed life.  If the media tells you the same thing, however, the wise response is to roll your eyes and rely on your first-hand experience.  While you’re not an average human, your first-hand experience almost certainty tells you that racism is rare, serious crime is ultra-rare, that terrorism is basically non-existent, and that the vast majority of people in rich countries are materially prosperous.  The media are in no position to “correct” you  – or anyone, really.  Politics aside, they are practically the most biased source on Earth.

Source: Econlib.org

Dennis Prager likes to tell of the time he was due to give a talk some distance away from where he had spent the night in a hotel.

The news was full of warnings of a horrible blizzard on its way. The weather looked fine. He decided to drive to the location.

The weather stayed fine, and there was hardly any traffic. The blizzard never materialized, but everyone was staying off the road because of the news of the horrible blizzard. People were putting more faith in the news reports than their own eyes.

Hat tip: Some Non-Covid Links

Inspiration from a Comic Book: A Blast from the Past. — The Writer in Black

Storytellers tend to write better than they know.

Back when I was younger I practically lived for super hero comic books.  I lived vicariously the adventures of the heroes and heroines within them.  And before I grew up and got “respectable” I wanted to be a super hero and, if I may be frank, a part of me never really outgrew that.  And it’s with sadness that […]

Inspiration from a Comic Book: A Blast from the Past. — The Writer in Black

And in Hollywood nowadays, a lot of storytellers write better than their politics.

What about “whataboutism”?

Yesterday, Scott recommended a column by William Voegeli called “About ‘Whataboutism.’” I read that column and join Scott in recommending it.

In our current discourse, whataboutism is used by Democrats/leftists to counter conservatives who, when discussing questionable actions by Donald Trump or violent conduct by a pro-Trump mob (for example), point to similar behavior by others that Democrats/leftists did not condemn. Those of us who point to the double standard are accused of whataboutism.

The charge is an evasion — an attempt to duck the fact that Democrats are employing a double standard. Accepting the evasion means accepting unprincipled discourse, which is what the left desires. They insist on an exemption from normal rules of argument.

Whataboutism is essentially a demand that similar situations and similarly situated people be treated similarly. Thus, if not abused, whataboutism is an essential element of justice.

In law, if a Black plaintiff who was fired for being tardy twice for work points to a white co-worker who was tardy twice but not fired, his allegations make out of prima facie case of discrimination. His argument boils down to whataboutism, but it can’t be dismissed on that basis.

Source: What about “whataboutism”?

Spock’s Hammer

You’ve probably heard of Occam’s Razor, basically saying the simplest explanation is usually the best one. Scott Adams has made a point about election fraud that I’ll call “Spock’s Hammer”.

In an episode in the classic series, Spock is testifying at a court martial about Captain Kirk’s character. He says, “if I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity, I need not see it fall to know that it has in fact fallen.

Adams comments on the certainty that there was cheating during the 2020 election. Given that cheating was made almost cost-free, and given that there were strong incentives for cheating, it is inevitable that cheating would have occurred. He states that if you drop ice cream on pavement on a hot day, you don’t need to hang around and watch it melt to know that it has, in fact, melted.

I think I prefer “Spock’s Hammer” to “Adams’ Ice Cream”.

Nothing personal.

The Pressing Need for Everyone to Quiet Their Egos

Scott Kaufman offers some sound psychology below but seems unaware that it is mainly Leftism that he is criticizing.

It is clear that Leftist advocacy serves ego needs. It is submitted here that the major psychological reason why Leftists so zealously criticize the existing order and advocate change is in order to feed a pressing need for self-inflation and ego-boosting — and ultimately for power, the greatest ego boost of all.

Source: The Pressing Need for Everyone to Quiet Their Egos

Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Guns And Liberty, 2021: Part 2 — Stately McDaniel Manor

Last week’s installment of this updated series asked a fundamental question: Do human beings have an unalienable right to self-defense? There is no question the founding fathers of our constitutional, representative republic—we are not a democracy, thank God–believed they do–they must–and they acknowledged–not created–that unalienable, individual right in the Second Amendment. This was finally–in 2008 and 2010 […]

Guns And Liberty, 2021: Part 2 — Stately McDaniel Manor

Intellectual influences, part 1

(Arnold Kling)

Merle Kling was a professor of political science at Washington University. Our personalities were such that our relationship was a bit more like professor-student than father-son.

1. “Sometimes it’s this way, and sometimes it’s that way.” The most important idea that Merle Kling gave me was one he never wrote down.

….

2. Identifying nonsense. My father and his colleagues had a game that they would play when encountering high-sounding phrases (think of a self-help book or a speech at a political convention. Or think of a business book filled with buzzwords like “empowerment” and “synergy.”) Take all of the fancy words out of a paragraph and put them back in a completely different order. If changing the order of the fancy words does not change the meaning, then the paragraph in fact does not have any meaning. It is just using words in order to make listeners or readers feel like they are getting some profound insight.

Source: My intellectual influences, part 1: My father

WHEN YOUR KID SAYS CAPITALISM IS GREED: Colson Center’s Brook McIntire offers three handy facts abou…

WHEN YOUR KID SAYS CAPITALISM IS GREED: Colson Center’s Brook McIntire offers three handy facts about free enterprise that will make the average college econ prof instantly turn apoplectic. Wouldn’t you love to be there to see it!

Number one: taking responsibility for your own interests is not the same as selfishness. Adam Smith, the scottish moral philosopher wrote a lot about what he called self-interest and the role that plays in business. He famously wrote it is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner but from their regard to their own interest but smith wasn’t defending selfishness his point is that the butcher doesn’t have to visualize world peace or think about how much he loves you the customer in order to serve you. His motivation to pay his rent or pay for the braces his daughter needs is enough to drive his business.
others not just his family which leads
The second point: capitalism encourages altruism if that carpenter is to succeed he will need to figure out how to meet your needs.
Third point: capitalism can foster virtue and channel even our bad motivations into actions that benefit others. In a market economy success requires a host of virtues. Entrepreneurs must have patience and discipline to save their wealth rather than consume it all. They also must have courage to take calculated risks with what they save instead of hoarding it. Rather than being self-absorbed entrepreneurs must anticipate the needs of others.

Source: WHEN YOUR KID SAYS CAPITALISM IS GREED: Colson Center’s Brook McIntire offers three handy facts abou…