Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tolstoy, Bush, and the Horsethief

The Tolstoy Syndrome is also know as Confirmation Bias: In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs. It is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference, or as a form of selection bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study or disconfirmation of an alternative hypothesis. Confirmation bias is of interest in the teaching of critical thinking, as the skill is misused if rigorous critical scrutiny is applied only to evidence challenging a preconceived idea but not to evidence supporting it.



So what's this got to do with anything?

Well, every time I think I have heard something weird about President Bush some other wierder fact comes along. My daughter sent me this one.

Now it is his favorite painting.


George W. Bush is famous for his attachment to a painting which he acquired after becoming a “born-again Christian.” It’s by W.H.D. Koerner and is entitled A Charge to Keep. Bush was so taken by it, he took the painting’s name for his own official autobiography. And here’s what he says about it:
I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.


The only trouble is, that it is a lie. Another Bush lie to Bush.

Here is the whole story:

The sadness of this is almost overwhelming.




9 comments:

BB-Idaho said...

Tolstoy Syndrome, cognition bias, intuitive inference, selection bias...are you politely saying the man is stupid? :)

drlobojo said...

Stupid, no, living in his own fantasy world, yes. All of us do that to some degree. The evidence indicates that he has forgotten where the door back to reality is, however.
Tragedy is that he will never be capable to understand what he has done. He will never be in the wrong, he will never have made any mistakes. He will never be responsible for what he has done.
Stupid, no, sick, yes. And the whole damn country is now infected.

BB-Idaho said...

"Tolstoy Syndrome, cognition bias, intuitive inference, selection bias..."
"All of us do that to some degree." ..afraid so. Fought the tendency during my career in chemistry, where, fortunately the facts don't seem to carry the emotional baggage...which seems to be an operator in shading cognition. 'Objectively' speaking, wonder if the Pres's
reality is partially the result of hyperpositive feedback from the enevitable sycophants/political groupies?

BB-Idaho said...

Forgot to mention about that Koerner painting. Don't know much about art, but it looked to me at first glance like one of those C.M. Russel paintings.

drlobojo said...

BB said: '...wonder if the Pres's
reality is partially the result of hyperpositive feedback from the enevitable sycophants/political groupies?"

It would seem that one with that syndrome would tend to reinforce ones self by creating an environment where one is reinforce. yep, they would be there wouldn't they.

Saw some of Koener's other works at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody this fall. Yep, they are in that Russel etc. genre.

BB-Idaho said...

Your paragraph on 'Tolstoy's Syndrome' is a densely packed concise statement of human perception and mis-perception.
I like it so well, that I've used it verbatim in arguments on a couple other blogs. [one in reference to winning/losing in Iraq, the other on Creationism/Evolution] Since that is blatant plagerism, I referrenced your site in one instance, then thinking it perhaps public domain, not at another. Since I like it so much, I may 'steal' it some more. If so, how would you prefer to be credited?

drlobojo said...

BB, most of the wording came from a Wikipedia article on "Confermation Bias". It is cited at the end of that paragraph.
I'm good, but not that good.

Erudite Redneck said...

Lies to oneself are always the worst, and they're like Tribbles: born pregnant.

jay paul said...

I really like your writing style. Can’t wait for the next one. Keep these informative posts coming!

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