Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:22 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:22 | SYDNEY

Confirmation bias: A demonstration


Sam Roggeveen


26 March 2009 16:35

In Monday's linkage post, I wrote this:

 The Interpreter prides itself on being widely read by bureaucrats in Canberra. But this is not the kind of attention we have in mind.

The link was to a story about Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's plans to monitor Australian blogs:

The Government will begin trawling blog sites as part of a new media monitoring strategy, with documents singling out a website critical of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for special mention.

To my suspicious eyes, that seemed of a piece with Conroy's plans to set up an Australia-wide filtering system for the internet. My reading on that issue has largely been confined to Crikey, which is highly critical of Conroy's plans, so I clearly had blinkers on when I read the piece about blog monitoring.

But a colleague points out to me today that the kind of blog monitoring described in that story might be precisely what we want, since it seems akin to a Media Monitors-style clipping service, in which politicians and bureaucrats are given the most important daily reading in their area of interest.

That's good for us, and on second reading, that seems a fair interpretation of the story. In other words, a textbook example of confirmation bias on my part.