Wednesday, October 03, 2018

I Would Buy That Book

(Image from the Weekly Standard)
Your humble blogger has so far resisted commenting on Brett Kavanaugh because:
1) much more has been said--and better--than I ever could;
2) there's much we don't know, and new information could instantly upset any carefully thought-out narrative;
3) expressing an opinion can be dangerous to social relationships that are much more important to me than the success or failure of this nomination, or, for that matter, what happens in the mid-term elections.

One of the best pieces I've read has more to do with the listening audience than with Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford. It concerns our motivated reasoning.

Let's assume that, before Dr. Ford's allegations became known, you supported Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice.That should not have meant that you necessarily believed that he was innocent of her charges. Similarly, you could have been opposed to Judge Kavanaugh without believing he was a sex abuser. Yet...[bold added]
One of the most striking aspects of the debate over the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the extremely high correlation between what people think of the allegations and whether they believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed aside from them. Conservatives Republicans who like Kavanaugh's jurisprudence tend to dismiss the accusations. Liberal Democrats who oppose Kavanaugh on jurisprudential grounds tend to think the accusations are true (or at least highly likely to be so). A similar pattern emerges when it comes to the issue of burden of proof, with conservatives often claiming that it rests on the accuser and that Kavanaugh is "innocent until proven guilty," like a defendant in a criminal trial. Liberals, by contrast, tend to argue that the situation should be treated as more a "job interview" than a legal process, and it is up to Kavanaugh to prove that he is fit to be a Supreme Court justice. Some even contend that we should presumptively believe the accusers.
I tried to keep an open mind during the hearings last Thursday. This meant suppressing defensive thoughts when a witness or questioner challenged what I wanted to believe. It meant empathizing with each witness, trying to imagine myself in his or her shoes and assuming what he or she said was true.

Even after it was over, I didn't see how anyone could say that they were "100% sure" that one of them was lying. There are possible scenarios where both could be telling the truth as they knew it, for example, where he was so drunk he failed to remember the incident or she had a false memory by assigning a face and name to a shadowy figure in a long-ago traumatic event.

Whatever happens to this nomination I hope a major media organization will continue to look at what may have happened 36 years ago. If that investigation is done in good faith, that is, by not trying to drive to a conclusion, I would buy that book.

No comments: