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On Education Polls And Confirmation Bias


I think you've skipped by a critical issue in trying to interpret these polls and role of confirmation bias. These are polls of the public (e.g. parents), who are being asked questions that they might or might not be appropriately knowledgable to be able to answer well, or even consistently. You seem to be taking at face value the legitimacy of these answers, without questioning the appropriateness or stability of the answers. It is entirely possible that the answers are at least a little bit inconsistent because the wording offers different clues to non-experts about the facts about which their opinions are being solicited. Is confirmation bias a real issue in the evalaution of evidence? Of course! Should we be careful when listening to people cite parts of polls? No question. But these particular polls might or might not be valid data in the first place. There are legitimate questions about values and priorities which should not be limited to experts' answers. These are different than the technical question which really do require expertise in order to answer validly. But even those value/priority issues are informed by the respondents' beliefs about the technical issues. Thus, the information available to respondents (including in the queston wording) must always be considered.


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