Iluzija objektivnosti

To sem sicer že povedal, vendar bom vseeno še enkrat: Vedno ko preberem kolumno Tima Harforda, me malce, čisto malo, zagrabi zavist. Harford namreč tako brilijantno dobro piše in povezuje stvari, da mu je težko slediti. Ni čudno, da je že nekaj let zapored dobil britansko nagrado za najboljšega ekonomskega kolumnista.

No, tokrat Harford piše o iluziji lastne objektivnosti. Če nekdo vozi počasneje od nas, je idiot. Če nekdo vozi hitreje, je manijak. Če s sinom gledava tekmo med Barco in Chelseajem, bom jaz penil nad grobo igro Chelseajevih igralcev (huligani!), sin pa bo naštel vse grobe favle Barce, ki jih jaz niti opazil nisem. Jaz svoja stališča oblikujem na podlagi dejstev in sem absolutno objektiven pri njihovi interpretaciji, drugi pa so pristranski, ideološko in politično motivirani, plačani za svoja mnenja od lobijev. In tako naprej. Vedno vidimo to, kar hočemo videti. Gledamo skozi obarvana očala. Vsak zase živimo v iluziji lastne objektivnosti. Vsi drugi, ki se z nami ne strinjajo, pa so idioti, plačanci, murgelčani, janšisti ali pa živijo v zmoti.

…no, objektivno gledano, so nekateri, ki se javno pojavljajo, res idioti.

We see what we want to see. We also tend to think the worst of the “idiots” and “maniacs” who think or act differently. One study by Emily Pronin and others asked people to fill in a survey about various political issues. The researchers then redistributed the surveys, so that each participant was shown the survey responses of someone else. Then the participants were asked to describe their own reasoning and speculate about the reasoning of the other person.

People tended to say that they were influenced by rational reasons such as “attention to fact”, and that people who agreed with them had similar motives. Those who disagreed were thought to be seeking “peer approval”, or acting out of “political correctness”. I pay attention to facts but you’re a slave to the approval of your peers. I weigh up the pros and cons but you’re in the pocket of the lobbyists.

Even when we take a tolerant view of those who disagree with us, our empathy only goes so far. For example, we might allow that someone takes a different view because of their cultural upbringing — but we would tend to feel that they might learn the error of their ways, rather than that we will learn the error of ours.

Pity the BBC’s attempts to deliver objective and neutral coverage of a politicised issue such as the British referendum on leaving the EU. Eurosceptics will perceive a pro-Brussels slant, Europhiles will see the opposite. Both sides will assume corruption, knavery or stupidity is at play. That is always possible, of course, but it is also possible that passionate advocates simply don’t recognise objectivity when they see it.

It is hard to combat naive realism because the illusion that we see the world objectively is such a powerful one. At least I’ve not had to worry about it too much myself. Fortunately, my own perspective is based on a careful analysis of the facts, and my political views reflect a cool assessment of reality rather than self-interest, groupthink or cultural bias. Of course, there are people to the left of my position. They’re idiots. And the people on my right? Maniacs.

Vir: Tim Harford

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