Topic XIX. Confirmation Bias
- C. CONCEPT APPLICATION
- In a given instance of confirmation bias, identify the following components:
- a. Prior beliefs/working hypothesis affecting reasoning,
- b. Evidence/interpretations that would be favored,
- c. Evidence/interpretations that would be missing/discounted, and
- d. How the confirmation bias might affect the resulting conclusions.
- Practice Problems
- In Sweden, there is a syndrome called uppgivenhetssyndrom, in which children become completely comatose and unresponsive despite apparently having nothing physically wrong with them. Their reflexes and blood pressure remain normal. Yet they are unresponsive to pain, and must be fed through feeding tubes stuck down their throats. This syndrome exclusively affects refugee children in Sweden whose families are threatened with deportation; it has never been diagnosed outside of Sweden. It has affected hundreds of refugee children in Sweden, primarily children from former Soviet bloc states. Some children have remained comatose for years. Initially, the families were deported anyway. However, photographs of unconscious children being deported on stretchers raised a public outcry. More recently, most families with an affected child have received reconsideration by the Board of Immigration. At present, the only known cure is for the family to be approved for permanent residency. Even after families are approved, it takes weeks or even months for the children to recover. Since the condition is thought to arise from external circumstances, doctors have primarily focused on keeping the children alive, not waking them up by medical means.
- a. Which facts above are likely to be emphasized by a government official who wants to justify increasing deportations? Find two facts. Why would these be emphasized?
- b Which facts above are likely to be emphasized by a doctor who wishes to help the whole family remain in Sweden? Find two such facts. Why would these be emphasized?