Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

Cognitive Bias in action: biased accuse others of bias


there are a lot of people who accuse others of bias, while been deeply and thoroughly biased themselves,  sort of “self-biased”

(exact term is: Cognitive bias ,  also see relevent article List of cognitive biases).

It is too common tendency which prevails among Thai  reporters,  politicians and even intellectuals  (as those so called “ajarns”).

I have observed it  so many times everywhere on small and large scale.  and  recently there was  a lot of discussions on Thailand related blogs  where many people have attacked others for anything even slightly different from the “official truth“.  I was quite pissed off seeing that so many people attacked Nick for presenting of his  story in this particular way, which is different from how usually same events (government crackdown on UDD protests in Bangkok during Songkran 2009).

So, I’ve decided to make my own comments there (also comments #124 and #129), and then to post them here on this blog – sort of to save the effort and time of writing the same thing here again. so, here are my thoughts / comments  about  “biased accusing others of bias” :

It is amazing to see how much outrage and even almost a hate is expressed at Nick by people like Portman, Les Abbys etc.

WOW !

they blame him for bias. alright, I understand that they must be a champions of FREE SPEECH than – the famous “fair and balanced” cliche ! :)

but then …

I can’t see them speaking about the TOO OBVIOUS BIAS unleashed by Thai partisan MSM, government PR propaganda campaign (Satit), and army’s own (Kansern). I don’t see them denounce the TOTAL MEDIA BLACKOUT conducted by MICT (all the TV, radio and websites of Reds being blocked).

so, EVEN IF Nick was biased (I don’t agree with that) – his ALTERNATIVE coverage of events is perhaps a tiny drop in the raging ocean of BLATANT PROPAGANDA conducted by Thai MSM, amry, gov, ajarns (especial SHAME on them – thery are disgrace to the word “intellectuals” – more like a “prostitutes for the Establishment ” !!! )

Portman, here is my challenge :

can you refer to at least ANY ONE SINGLE genuine UNbiased source in Thai Media ? WHY DON’T YOU talk about MUCH LARGER BIAS conducted by all those mentioned Propaganda players ?

my guess is – because you’r either one of them, shamelessly dishonest to the core – or you are an “armchair demagogue” !

now, how about that, huh ? ;)

just one simple example:

you kept raving about Nik mentioning LIVE bullets…
you accuse him of distortion. well, as you might know – the “burden of evidence” lies upon the accuser, not the accused [presumption of innocense ]. yet you DID NOT provide ANY evidences to prove your accusations – instead you ….. demand evidences from Nick !

this is dishonest, my friend. you demand from others something what you don’t even bother to do – although in CIVIL debate (and in legal process) – it is YOU who must provide evidences.

then in comment #75 Ralph Kramden has given a Link to Nation ! (perhaps the most biased of Thai newspapers) the article which clearly shows that Army has admitted the usage of LIVE ammo (although I have watched many TV reports prior to that where officials also admitted that).

then the most intersting part is:

I couldn’t find ANY of your comments on that. it seems like you have simply dissapeared and shrunk, hey ?

WHERE HAS GONE YOUR OUTRAGE AND RIGHTEOUS ANGER at Nick’s mentioning the LIVE bullets, dude ?

WHERE is your APOLOGY for all your accusations and raving all along ?

NIck – don’t you get upset by this kind of personal attacks !
keep up the good work – because you’re right in your effot of “giving a voice to the people that generally have no voice in society” !!!

because this is what I consider as “subversive truth” – the one which comes from the grassrots, NOT from the top down, given by “officials”.

to me personally (and I am sure that I’m not alone) – no matter what Portman and others would say in attacking you, your kind of reports is worth a million times then INSINCERE pontification of those people.

as saying goes: “dogs bark and caravan goes on”

DON’T BE AFFECTED by these insincere comments, my friend !

once again : DEEPEST RESPECT to standing up to them and defending your ADHERENCE TO TRUTH !

all those who have balls and audacity to shamelessly blame him of bias – go and collect your own “facts” and write your own story – why don’t you ?! as I know NM has stated time and again that they accept the contribution by “visitor authors” .

otherwise – STOP pointing fingers, because as saying goes : “when you point a finger to someone – 3 other fingers point back to you !

what a nerve these guys have, huh? simply unbelievable !
kettle calls pot black

my next comment, after Nick repliled to me  :

Nick (#125)

actually you don’t even have to prove anything to those who attack you ! you can reply to them simply : burden of evidence” lies upon the accuser, not the accused – so, let THEM prove their accusations and provide evidences for that ! ;)

and when I say “evidences” – I mean solid hard evidences, NOT some theoritizing or speculations based on some theoretical knowledge or even more precisely on their own INTERPRETATIONS of that theoretical knowledge !

by solid evidences I mean – let them produce something like : some WITNESS who was there beside Nick and may say “no Nick is lying – there was no any bullets flying over our heads, certainly not real bullets”, or any such, as well as, say, proper investigation among the troops who were actually participating in those events, and whoever else – like may be who were shot by “blank” bullets.

I bet my a$$ they can’t provide ANY such evidences !

whatever….

but the main point is – it is THEM (like Portman) who must proove their accusations with solid evidences – NOT accused (Nick) !

and ANY attempt to charge Nick with accusations without providing sufficient evidences for such accusations is baseless because of “presumption of innocense” – basic principle in legal practice in all civilised countries !

on other hand, their challenge to dare Nick to “provide evidences” – is nothing else than a DIRTY TRICK ! :)
because they are accusers, yet they lay the
burden of evidence.

Nick,

personally I don’t think you’re biased – at most what you can be accused of is being sympathetic towards reds, yes – “sympathetic” is the ONLY correct word is applicable here ! and I don’t see anything wrong in person having certain sympathies in FREE and democratic society, and those who would accuse another of being sympathetic perhaps need to check their own “bias-ometer” ! :)

because “bias” is :

2. a. A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.
b. An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.
(An inclination for or against that inhibits impartial judgment)

I didn’t find in your story ANYTHING which was “partial judgement” or “unfair” !

I am sure – you would have (and wanted) to say more than that, according to many other things you’ve seen or heard – but you withheld those “more” things precisely because you have taking a big care to present the story in as much IMPARTIAL way as possible.

In fact, I think it is those who attack you are biased ! because :

“In psychology, Cognitive bias is bias based on cognitive factors. One type of cognitive bias is confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new information in such a way that confirms one’s prior beliefs, even to the extreme of denial, ignoring information that conflicts with one’s prior beliefs. The fundamental attribution error, also known as “correspondence bias”, is one example of such bias, in which people tend to explain others’ behavior in terms of personality, whereas they tend to explain their own behavior in terms of the situation”

confirmation biasis a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and to avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

so, there are people who are thoroughly BRAINWASHED by “Combined Propaganda” (Thai MSM + gov. + army PR + “ajarns” + their own interests to preserve the status quo) and they FILTER all the facts and informatin through their prism of deluded perseption of reality ! ( this is especially typical of “Yellow zombies” :)

therefore ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they hear or read – they filter, or interpret in their own BIASED (cognitive bias) twisted way.

however if once in a while they come across something which they can’t neither “filter” nor interpret – they get furious ! mainly because such information challenges and destroys their carefully constructed ILLUSION – they can’t maintain their own dellusional ideas anymore, they can’t allow doubts or anything to undermine their own cognitive bias !

that’s why they have no choice but PROTECT their own bias – they have to confront and attack the source of such disturbing information (”shooting the messanger” allegory comes to mind :) ).

and the best way to do it – of course to accuse that person of bias.

now, first of all – this in itself can be considered as “Argumentum ad Hominem” fallacy (or “personal attack”) – because in a decent debate people would avoid attacking person, but only stick to attacking argument itself. however accusing person of bias is a trick which accomplishes exactly what “attack on person” constitutes :  switching the debate from the ARGUMENT itself (the premise) towards the personality of opponent, then attempting to DISCREDIT the opponent by some accusation (as “bias” here) and in such away to DISMISS the argument made by opponent as lacking credibility.

the logic is : person A is “bla-bla-bla” therefore whatever he say is BS, because he can’t be trusted.
(I know – I’m fully aware that I’ve practically done the same thing in #122 – I did it on purpose to let him get the idea of the feeling – sort of paid with the same coin :) although my charges to him have more sense than his charges to Nick)

now, coming back to “evidences” !

check it out, more interesting part :

Confirmation bias is of interest in the teaching of critical thinking, as the skill [of critical thinking] is misused if rigorous critical scrutiny is applied only to evidence challenging a preconceived idea but not to evidence supporting it

so, how about that, huh ? ;)

to me it is pretty obvious that what is mentioned above can be seen in the posts of many those here who attack Nick !

they have their own preconceived idea (”Reds are evil, violent, uneducated mob paid by eveil monster from hell Thaksin to help him back his money” or something like that) and they always get more than plenty of confirmation for that all over the Thai Media (which reflects the opinions of other sources aligned with it). but once they come accross of something which challenges their such preconceived idea – they ONLY apply rigorous ctirical scrutiny to that information, and demand EVIDENCES, or try to dismiss it if they think there are not evidences, or if there are evidences – they are EXTREMELY critical of those evidences too (as in recent Parliament debates the Dems said that photos provided by PT are fake and edited in Photoshop :) )

but

whatever the twist in such “debates” – we can NEVER see these people applying the SAME amount of rigorous ctirical scrutiny to the “evidences” whihc rather support their own preconceived idea (fair to say – prejudice) !

why is that? ;)

because of …. their own cognitive bias !!!!
(confirmation bias).

and what is more ! if someone is attempting to find evidences which prove that wrong preconceived idea – they accuse them of “smearing campaign” etc.

this is like a hillarious comedy !

if only it didn’t have such a serious consiquences to the real world we live in – the careful and thorough formation of public opinion based entirely on BIAS of preconceived idea !

the main problem is – there are very few people (among general public) who bother to examine carefully such bias, because it takes time and effort. there are of course few who see it through instantly. but even they usually do not attempt to challenge it in public – because again, for general public it would seem more like bnickering or quarrel (as recent Parliament debates). and those very few who does try – they are instantly booed and ridiculed, even may be risk “pesonality assassination” (term usually used in US, like who was that – Clark ? the guy who held high position in Bush’s government and dared to voice his doubts about 9/11 and then faced huge smearing campaign by MSM till he had no choice bu resign)

that’s why this sort of affairs continues.

I’m glad that still there are some honest intellectuals (even those who comments here) who do voice their disagreement with such “confirmation bias”.

although some of them eventually are silenced (for example, it is too easy to find something in their statements which can be charged with certain draconian laws ;) – it is even sufficient to simply make such charge, not even necessarily it to be proved … ) and are forced either keep quite, or “be in line”, or …. go elsewhere ;)

so, as I mentioned previously – their bias and demagoguery is quite easy to defeat for anyone who simply tries. no even need to be any sort of profi. I’m nobody – but I do use my brains and I don’t swallow the crap pushed by such demagogues. and I’m 100% sure that there are a lot more people out there who see it through too, and have muhc higher skills.

therefore, as saying goes “you can fool some people some time – but you can’t fool all the people all the time”

I believe that eventually TRUTH prevails anyway and I thank Nick again for sticking to the truth. as well as all those who give support to Nick (like ajaran Somsak here – as one of the very few remaining honest intellectuals who do not prostitute themselves to the Establishment !).

As I said  in the comments,  most of people do not concentrate so much on such  things and rather skip the “confirmation bias“. However I think it is important to be aware  of this too common tendency while reading all the information provided by Thai MSM and those whose opinions they reflect !

I only wish that some day some one really professional (no amature as I am) could do a proper research and compile the study of ALL the  fallacies, trick, biases  used in Thai MSM  – there is so much material for that, more than sufficient !  🙂  it would benefit  public a lot, at least those who are capable of critical thinking at the beginning, and then later those people could challenge the facts distortion and  gradually infuence the rest of  public.  and who knows – may be even some  Thai journalists and intellectucals  may change their habits and start presenting the TRUE  facts. although I’m afraid it is a VERY long road ahead to achieve that.

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May 3, 2009 - Posted by | Ajarns-watch, Propaganda | , , , , , , , , ,

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