Patterico's Pontifications

5/15/2007

Confirmation Bias: The Real Problem with the U.S. Attorney “Scandal”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:08 am

The Bush Administration’s nefarious plan to unravel the prosecution of Dusty Foggo and Brent Wilkes is finally bearing fruit:

Kyle Dusty Foggo and Brent Wilkes head to federal court today where they will likely plead not guilty to new conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Indictments against the pair came Friday that expand the charges filed against them in February.
In addition to the old charges, in the new indictment, Foggo, former executive director of the CIA, is accused of slipping his lifelong friend, Wilkes, a $132 million federal contract to provide commercial cover for CIA air operations.

See? All Bush had to do was replace the prosecutor, and the case went down the tubes . . .

Oh. Wait, I’m confused: if there are new charges, doesn’t that sound like . . . they are being prosecuted with zeal and diligence? B-b-b-but I thought Carol Lam’s replacement was supposed to make that prosecution go away??

But you won’t find a word about the U.S. Attorney’s scandal in the TPMmuckraker entry on the new Foggo and Wilkes charges. It doesn’t fit the storyline, you see.

And that’s what bugs me about this whole scandal. It’s something researchers call “confirmation bias.” When something comes along that confirms your preconceived view — such as the recent (and admittedly suspicious-sounding) revelation that David Yglesias’s name was added to the list on Election Day — you just pile it on the mound of evidence. But when something comes along that flies directly in the face of your preconceived notion — like the new Wilkes and Foggo charges — you note the evidence, but don’t ask how it affects your theory . . . because the answer is inconvenient.

Confirmation bias. It’s the main problem with this whole scandal.


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