Authors
Kevin Dorst
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
Predictable polarization is everywhere: we can often predict how people’s opinions—including our own—will shift over time. Empirical studies suggest that this is so when evidence is ambiguous. That fact is often thought to demonstrate human irrationality. It doesn’t. Bayesians will predictably polarize iff their evidence is ambiguous. And ours often is: the process of cognitive search—searching a cognitively-accessible space for an item of a particular profile—yields ambiguous evidence that can predictably polarize beliefs, despite being expected to make them more accurate. A series of such rational updates can lead to polarization that is predictable, profound, and persistent. This process is not only theoretically possible, but also empirically plausible. I present an experiment supporting the polarizing effect of cognitive search, and then use models and simulations to show how such ambiguous evidence can help explain two of the core causes of polarization: confirmation bias and the group polarization effect.
Keywords polarization  disagreeement  ambiguous evidence  deference principles  value of evidence  diachronic tragedy  confirmation bias  group polarization effect  irrelevant influences
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

Evidence and Bias.Nick Hughes - forthcoming - In Clayton Littlejohn & Maria Lasonen Aarnio (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence.
Bounded Reflectivism and Epistemic Identity.Nick Byrd - 2022 - Metaphilosophy 53 (1):53-69.

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