Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pigheadedness and Science

An interesting piece in the NYTimes:
In a classic psychology experiment, people for and against the death penalty were asked to evaluate the different research designs of two studies of its deterrent effect on crime. One study showed that the death penalty was an effective deterrent; the other showed that it was not. Which of the two research designs the participants deemed the most scientifically valid depended mostly on whether the study supported their views on the death penalty.

In the laboratory, this is labeled confirmation bias; observed in the real world, it’s known as pigheadedness.

In the spirit of the article, this confirms my perspective on the role of pigheadedness in science (HT: Dana Chandler, via Google+).

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