Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inferred Justification

Newsweek is currently running several articles on lying. Not surprisingly, one article decides to explore why people believe lies in our political arena. This being Newsweek, and the national debate being what it is, one author takes on the lies at the heart of the health care "debate" and uses the "Iraq ties to 9/11" research as a basis.

Of course, this doesn't tell us much we don't already know. (Or, if it does, it will be dismissed outright for reasons the article explains....)

Liberal bias aside, the "inferred justification" part is what I find most interesting. People believe whatever they want, and then search for things to back up those beliefs. They disregard information contrary or challenging to things they believe. This has far reaching effects for policy considerations and only increases divisions within the American population.

This is why we have so many rhetorical gymnastics involving politics.

Inferred justification will explain about 90% of the things said about New Orleans and Katrina this week. (Case and point is the comments section at SWGA Politics, still going.) New Orleans is under sea level. People chose not to leave when they all could have. People just sat around waiting for someone else to save them. The governor screwed up and the Feds were not to blame. The Feds screwed up and the governor was not to blame. The Mayor was in a boat saving people. The levees were bombed by the President's plane. Etc. Etc. Etc.

This is dangerous as it erodes our shared history. It allows us to live with unchallenged false notions. It erodes the intellectual curiosity of our society to become a more perfect union. It allows us to ignore things we disagree with and get too defensive about it to accept other ideas. Innovation is stifled. Bad decisions are excused. Justice is postponed. Excuses are made. Stagnation sets in.



Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Another example of inferred justification can be found with waterboarding.

DADvocate said...

I first realized inferred justification in relation to religion although I never gave it a fancy. I just realized that people chose what they wanted to believe and then scored passages of the Bible to justify their beliefs. (I do think the Bible has lots of wisdom in it but much of it is not literal, some is historical account, you have to separate the old from the new, etc.)

It probably appears in my posts that I perform a lot of inferred justification. But, I try to present a strong argument for my case. It's the other guy's job to present his case. However, I do believe I am much more flexible in my views than most. (I hope I am.)

I sincerely try to avoid lies as, in the long run, they come back to bite you. My ex-wife is a habitual liar. The type who would tell a lie when the truth would suit her better. She was always having to keep up with what she told to whom. I simply stuck the truth and no worries.

Katrina is an excellent example. The lies flew on both sides and still do. One things for certain, Ray Nagin is incompetent.

DADvocate said...

Never gave it a fancy name, that is.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Fantastic example as far as the Bible and contemporary religion.

I don't see a lot of inferred justification in your writing because, though you point out things that you find important (as most bloggers do), you do not dismiss contrary opinions as false simply because you disagree with them. That's where I think the line exists - who considers other opinions seriously and who dismisses things out of hand.