I think ^(link) therefore I err

Friday, October 27, 2006


The blogosphere never caught on to this story from the Washington Post the other day, so I will post it here. Maybe it was just TOOO outrageous for words. Essentially Shankar Vedantam writes an article about the psychological experience of "anchoring" where a person, once given a figure, holds onto that number in spite of other experiences.

Cute little experiment in psychology, right? Wrong! It's an agenda piece, hiding as psychobabble.
A Johns Hopkins study published in a respected peer-reviewed journal finds the number of Iraqis killed as a consequence of the 2003 invasion to be about 650,000. Critics immediately get up in arms; President Bush -- not known to be a keen evaluator of scientific studies -- declares the result "not credible."

Then, guess who put the anchored number up?
That's right.
"It could be malicious and deliberate or innocent and just wrong, but the fact that the administration had set an anchor is what makes the new number seem implausible," said Max Bazerman, who studies human decision-making at Harvard Business School.
And that's it. No mention of other sources saying how ridiculous that number is. This article is out there to tell people that the reason no one believes the 600,000 is because we've been "anchored" in a smaller number and NOT because it's bull.