Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Overview of this Blog

Information presented via television, magazines, or the internet is often presented without the proper context or explanations for you to understand how it realistically relates to your life. The media organizations often have an agenda to present information in such a carefully edited way as to maximize readership, advertising revenue, or support for a cause. Also, media organizations often do not have a sufficient enough background in statistics or psychology to effectively present relevant information even when they try to. This blog will obviously not be comprehensive, but will post examples of misleading media with added context, analysis, and explanation of the psychological processes involved in the (mis)interpretation of the information.

In order to be useful for non-academics, each post should include a very brief executive summary followed by the more in-depth analysis. I hope that academics will read this blog so that they may help me with their comments. I am human and suffer from automatic biases the same as everyone else; I just try harder than most to be aware of them and correct for them, but I am not perfect. I also do not have access to all data in the world, so readers are welcome to inform me and teach me. If all readers are academics, however, most posts would be "preaching to the choir". I hope that a significant lay readership benefits from the added information and understanding, so they are not manipulated, scammed, hoodwinked, ripped-off, and betrayed by the media.

In the interests of transparency, which should be mandatory for all information sources, readers should know that I am politically independent, socially liberal, but obsessed with fiscal efficiency that is responsible for outcomes. I have graduate degrees in clinical psychology and business administration. I am furious when resources are wasted that could be used to make net systemic improvements, and when people make decisions that cause net systemic harm. I am ethically utilitarian. I care about everyone, the whole system, and I do not favor any subgroup over another. I value honesty, integrity, and efficiency.

Examples of complementary sources of information:
I also have access to academic journals through university libraries, and will refer to these peer-reviewed sources, though they have their own problems that I will also discuss.

Examples of psychological processes:
Information bias
Attribution biases
Confirmation bias
Availability heuristic
Cognitive dissonance (and its resolution)
Projection bias
Representativeness, In-group/Out-group biases, and so on...

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