Another dot in the blogosphere?

Availability heuristic

Posted on: May 1, 2019

I learn things from the most unexpected places. Take this portion of the parody of The White House Correspondents’ Dinner called Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Video source

When news programmes broadcast opinion pieces, they might try to provide a balanced view as a ritual. The video above argued that this falsely creates moral or intellectual equivalency of two opposing ideas.

An expert and empty but noisy barrels were given equal time to share their thoughts on climate change. The problem with doing this is the availability heuristic.

What is the availability heuristic? It is creating a false balance to observers by creating the impression that half of the larger population think that the subject is true while the other half think that it is false.

So there are ideas informed and tested by science and there are ideas that are not. One might label these respectively as facts and alternative facts. The more we allow alternative facts to persist, the dumber we remain and the more potential harm we do to ourselves.

This is not to say that we should not embrace nuance. Ideas and answers are rarely black or white. However, they are built on different foundations. We should dig deeper to determine whose ideas we should consult and listen to.

This is exactly what Hank Green did in the video below. It is well worth the 15 minutes to watch. You might learn what the availability heuristic is, how harmful this can be, and how to dig for nuance.

Video source

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