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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Applied Bayesianism

According to Walter Russell Mead:

For liberals, these are bleak times of hollow victories (Obamacare) and tipping points that don’t tip. For examples of the latter, think of Sandy Hook, the horrific massacre in Connecticut that Democrats and liberals everywhere believed would finally push the American public toward gun control. Two years later, polls show more Americans than ever before think it’s more important to protect gun access than to promote gun control.

Sandy Hook isn’t the only example. There was the latest 2014 IPCC report on climate change that was going to end the debate once and for all. The chances for legislative action on climate change in the new Congress: zero or less. There was Ferguson and the Garner videotape showing the fatal chokehold, both of which set off a wave of protests but seem unlikely to change public attitudes about the police. There was the Senate Intelligence Committee “torture report” that was going to settle the issue of treatment of detainees. Again, the polls are rolling in suggesting that the public remains exactly where it was: supportive of “torture” under certain circumstances. And of course there was the blockbuster Rolling Stone article on campus rape at UVA, the story that, before it abruptly collapsed, was going to cement public support for the Obama administration’s aggressive attempt to federalize the treatment of sexual harassment on campuses around the country.

The standard left-wing take on this is: This proves wingnuts ignore evidence! (My earlier comments on the propensity of leftists to claim “wingnuts” ignore evidence can be found here.)

On the contrary, such news items have no effect on our opinions because we expect them. We expect occasional reports of massacres in “gun-free” zones. We expect to see reports of police brutality. According to Bayes Theorem, new evidence that was regarded as highly probable in advance should have little effect.

Question: What are Leftists expecting along similar lines? They expect to see reports of sex scandals and reports of the Mid-east falling apart. What else are they expecting?

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