Tuesday, October 24, 2006
14 Days Before Midterm Elections
It is "the Iraq war", stupid * Death Tolls - Johns Hopkins Study
Those who took the nation to war on deception and lies are dodging, weaving. and changing the message but nothing seems to be working. The tide has turned. The Democrats, who had meekly fallen in line behind them, are the beneficiaries of the backlash.
"In a Sea of Uncertainty, We All Have an Anchor" by Shankar Vedantam in the Post makes interesting reading.
Although the debate over the study has been largely driven by the political implications of the number of Iraqi casualties, psychologists say the fact that many people find the new number hard to digest is a perfect example of anchoring.
Previous estimates had put the number of Iraqi casualties at 30,000 to 50,000. Once that number was anchored in people's minds, it was a foregone conclusion that most people would find it very difficult to accept a much larger number.
"It could be malicious and deliberate or innocent and just wrong, but the fact that the administration had set an anchor is what makes the new number seem implausible," said Max Bazerman, who studies human decision-making at Harvard Business School.
It is important to remember that the psychological phenomenon does not tell you what the correct number of casualties in Iraq really is. But it does say that even if the 650,000 number is accurate, we are likely not to believe it.