More on the effects of cognition on perception

Monday, October 17, 2005
Evan Coyne Maloney makes a point I've also noticed: "conservative", "Republican" and "ties to the Republican White House" are necessary qualifiers for people like Robert Novak; however, "liberal", "Democrat", and "ties to Democrats in Congress" aren't when naming George Stephanopolis or Tim Russert or Chris Matthews.

Again, it's silly to ascribe this to some purposeful, conscious decision. But we use this kind of adjectival qualifier to point out when we're talking about something out of the ordinary: male nurse; female judge or engineer; blind watchmaker.

What I think this tells us is that there is an implicit assumption, widely enough shared that most people don't even notice, that press people and commentators are "liberal" and "Democrat" unless told otherwise.

I wonder how that changes other perceptions?


Knucklehead said...


Interesting observation. As with the male nurse example, the "conservative" or "republican" qualifiers are, perhaps, indications that the MSM views these sorts as "others" or ABNormal.

Back when Clinton was POTUS, and then later when Bush became POTUS, I noticed something similar. If the MSM had some gripe about the military during the Clinton administration they invariably referred to the Pentagon. As soon as Bush took office the Pentagon was referred to as the administration. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's the way it goes.

When a Democrat is in office the military is some seperate organization and that must be made clear. When a Republican is in office the military is just another part of the evil whole.

Syl said...

Puts 'em in a kind of quandry when they wish to refer to Zell Miller. :)

David Thomson said...

“Again, it's silly to ascribe this to some purposeful, conscious decision.”

I am convinced that the vast majority of those employed in the MSM could pass a lie detector test to support their claim of being fair and objective. They truly believe their own bovine excrement. Residing in an echo chamber encourages delusional thinking. After awhile, you start to believe that it’s merely coincidental that everyone is on the same page. One is not biased. It’s just a fact that liberals are smarter and therefore should hold the best media jobs. Those stupid conservatives should send their resumes to Halliburton and the evil oil companies.

Seneca the Younger said...

David, I think part of the point is that we don't do ourselves any good when we look for, and assign blame based on, a conspiracy theory when there may be no such conspiracy. Especially when the analogous theory can be used by our opponents.

We can't control events; we can control our thoughts. Or as another Stoic once said "never explain by malice what can adequately be explained by foolishness."