Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bias confirmation

Hard to imagine myself saying this about a New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, but I really like Jodi Rudoren; she doesn't particularly deviate from any party line that you might suspect her of hewing to, but she's just a good writer, with a curiosity about people tangential to the beat, and surprising insights:
The retired men who parse politics on Monday mornings over cappuccino at the Hadar Mall here have watched all manner of war, uprisings and chaos. To them, the chemical attacks to the north in Syria and the military crackdown against Islamists to the south in Egypt are almost comforting, a confirmation of a common Israeli view that their Arab neighbors are unready for democracy, while also offering a diversion from their own conflict with the Palestinians.
What a beautiful way of capturing the conservatism of simple people in a quick brushstroke—the emotional frame that confirmation bias hangs on. What people long for isn't peace and goodwill, they want to know that we are still the good guys and the other guys are still bad.

Journalistic scruples compel her to say "almost comforting" but I would lose the "almost".
Funny—I'm looking for a picture of old guys in a Jerusalem coffee shop and this is the only good one I can find. Baumers Abroad, 2011. Anyway Rudoren would be talking to them too, for a different article.

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