The evidence-based asymmetry

Great Krugman today.  From social science, to health care, to climate, to guns, to taxes, too many Republicans just aren’t interested in learning about facts that may contradict their worldview.  Naturally, I love his conclusion which takes on the always-ready, facile, “but Democrats do it too” knee-jerk response:

O.K., at this point the conventions of punditry call for saying something to demonstrate my evenhandedness, something along the lines of “Democrats do it too.” But while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.

The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.

In her parting shot on leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton said of her Republican critics, “They just will not live in an evidence-based world.” She was referring specifically to the Benghazi controversy, but her point applies much more generally. And for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.

Yep.  And, yes, Democrats absolutely can be guilty of these cognitive biases as well, but it is fair to say it is quite simply categorically different than what we see from Republican elites.




About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The evidence-based asymmetry

  1. Deborah Ferry says:

    Actually, everyone does this to some degree. The Republicans, however, have built their platform on shameless ignorance.

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