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Posts Tagged ‘confirmation bias’

7th eColloq on Argumentation
Thursday April 11, 4-6 pm GMT+1  (Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm)
 
PROGRAM
4.00-4.10 Connect, Welcome
 
4.10-4:35 Bart Verheij (Groningen, The Netherlands):
Defeasible rule-based arguments with a logico-probabilistic foundation
 
Abstract: A theory of defeasible arguments is proposed that combines logical and probabilistic properties. This logico-probabilistic argumentation theory builds on two foundational theories of nonmonotonic reasoning and uncertainty: the study of nonmonotonic consequence relations (and the associated minimal model semantics) and probability theory. A key result is that, in the theory, qualitatively defined argument validity can be derived from a quantitative interpretation. The theory provides a synthetic perspective of arguments `jumping to conclusions’, rules with exceptions, and probabilities. The approach is compared to Pollock’s computational model of argumentation OSCAR, designed on the basis of his well-developed positions concerning the relations between argumentation, logic and probability. In contrast with Pollock’s OSCAR, the present approach is compatible with the standard probability calculus.
 
4:35-4:50 Discussion
 
4:50-5:00 Break
 
5:00-5:25 Emmanuel J. Genot (Lund University, Sweden):
The Myth of a Confirmation Bias (Arguments for a better argumentative theory of reasoning)
 
Abstract: Wason, confronted with an apparent instance of the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent in his empirical Selection Task, hypothesized a “Confirmation Bias” (CB) to be responsible for subjects’ selections [4]. When Bayesian rational analysis of the selection task (RAST, [3]) substituted a richer probabilistic semantics to Wason’s truth-functional semantics, subjects’ selection emerged as being vindicated, and evidence for CB (in fact, any bias) vanished. Relevance Theorists later produced data that Bayesian models could not accommodate [1], yet without exhibiting evidence for biases of any sort. However, Relevance Theory has more recently been superseded by the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning (ATR, [2]), in which CB has returned with a vengeance, backed by an evolutionary narrative that pits “argumentative” and “logical” competences against one another. I will argue that this narrative is a remnant of the same truncated view of logic (and semantics) that informed Wason’s theorizing, but that argumentation-theoretic considerations are necessary to account for the data. To support this view, I will present a generalization of RAST that accounts for both standard and non-standard cases of ST (resp. from [3, 4] and [1]) once argumentative goals are “factored in,” but with an underlying semantics that undermines the very idea of “logical competence”—without which the CB is but a myth.
 
Girotto, Kemmelmeier, Sperber & van der Henst. “Inept reasoners or pragmatic virtuosos? Relevance and the deontic selection task”, Cognition, 2001, 81, B69-B7
Mercier & Sperber, Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2011, 34, 57-74.
Oaksford & Chater. A Rational Analysis of the Selection Task as Optimal Data Selection. Psychological Review, 1994, 101, 608-631
Wason, Reasoning About a Rule. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1968, 20, 273-281
 
5:25-5:40 Discussion
 
Discussants (preliminary list)
Nir Oren (University of Aberdeen, UK)
David Hitchcock (McMasters, Canada)
Thomas Gordon (Berlin, Germany)
Jean Goodwin (Iowa State, USA)
Iowan Drehe (University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Sune Holm Petersen (Copenhagen University, Denmark)
Steven Patterson (Marygrove College, Detroit, USA)
Sarah Uckelman (Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg, Germany)
Marcin Lewinski (New University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Thomas Fischer (University of Houston, Texas, USA)
 
PARTICPATION
To participate as a discussant (just “sitting in” is in fact fine!), please review the links under “TechThings” at the above website (to test your hardware) and contact the organizer at frank.zenker@fil.lu.se.
 
ORGANIZER
Frank Zenker
Department of Philosophy & Cognitive Science
Kungshuset, Lundagård, 222 22 Lund, Sweden

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Rhetoricians will appreciate the presence of an attentive, if quadrupedal, audience in addition to the speakers.

An interesting phone interview with Hugo Mercier popped up today on Point of Inquiry, the blog for the Center for Inquiry.  The role of the confirmation bias, disagreement, and polarization are covered in this interesting discussion.  There are some very familiar themes here for argumentation theorists. It’s well worth a listen.  The clear and economical discussion of what can be complicated ideas here makes the podcast something potentially useful in advanced classes on reasoning too. The interview is about 40 minutes long. Click on the link below to listen.

Interview with Hugo Mercier

(Note: The file may take a moment to load depending upon your connection speed, so do be patient!)

 

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Upon opening my e-mail this morning I found a forward of this article from the New York Times on the popular fact-checking website snopes.com. I found the article interesting for more than a few reasons.

What has always fascinated me about Snopes is how it evolved organically online out of a felt need for objectivity. Since the beginning the web has always been a fertile breeding ground for rumors, urban legends and half-truths, and people (who I think are more sophisticated than we often believe) know this.  They are well aware of the multiple, conflicting biases that color the information they find online.  They know that these biases can lead to slanting and distortion, and to some degree they expect it.  For those who are not simply looking for confirmation of their own viewpoints, this is a problem.  Simply knowing that bias abounds on the web, however, is not a sufficient defense.  People with this kind of interest don’t want just any story, they want the story.  They want to know what really happened.  The multiple, conflicting accounts available online don’t tell them that.  The result is that people who want to use the web for information gathering purposes have to have some way of sifting the facts out of the voluminous chaff of rumor, exaggeration, and partisan cheerleading in which they lay hidden.

Enter Snopes, which as the article explains, evolved into its role as a “fact-checking” site.  (It did not start out that way.)  Nevertheless, it is now regarded by many as an authority on which stories are and are not credible on the web.

To my mind two things stand out from the article. The first is this quote:

For the Mikkelsons, the site affirms what cultural critics have bemoaned for years: the rejection of nuance and facts that run contrary to one’s point of view.

“Especially in politics, most everything has infinite shades of gray to it, but people just want things to be true or false,” Mr. Mikkelson said. “In the larger sense, it’s people wanting confirmation of their world view.”

(more…)

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