Monday, March 19, 2018

On false memories and confirmation bias at File 770


I'm amused and pleased none of my doubters have taken up my offer to let them see all the emails between the Fourth Street Board and me. But after watching them over a couple of days, I suspect they're simply not interested in facts that would force them to rethink their beliefs. All humans are susceptible to this, especially when they believe in things like neoliberalism or identitarianism that have nothing to do with facts.


Though estee confirmed that Coffeeandink had been public about her legal identity, Andy H insisted, the time of Racefail I had been a regular reader of coffeeandink’s blog for at least five years. For most of that period I did not know her real name. I don’t recall how I eventually learned it, but I understood it to not be something that was generally linked to the blog and with which it was appropriate to be discreet. I do not believe it to be true that she had ever used her first name as her livejournal username; she was coffeeandink for the entire time I followed her, but commenters occasionally called her affectionately by another pseudonym which I think may have been her username before.
I believe Andy H is being completely honest about her memory. But memory is so unreliable that good detectives know eye witnesses sometimes give false testimony without realizing it.

Fortunately, in this case, we have Coffeeandink's own words to show that Andy H misremembers. On March 7, almost a full week after I am supposed to have outed Coffeeandink, she made a public post addressed to Kathryn Cramer that included this:
Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.

As the conversation peters out, the neoliberals have been promoting two thoroughly debunked theories. I provided two relevant linkfests:

A few links for Clinton fans who still say Sanders was never attacked

A reminder for Clinton fans that the polls were right all along

But confirmation bias always rules. We trust things that confirm our beliefs. Cultists carry this to such an extreme that it might be called denial bias--they will reject disquieting information even when they don't have comforting information to fill the void.