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January 6th, 2021, an ignorance example

Consider the highly sensitive matter of the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol. This attack resulted in the death of Americans at American hands.  As stated in the U.S. congressional committee investigation report: [vii]

 

“The Committee’s investigation has identified many individuals involved in January 6th who were provoked to act by false information about the 2020 election repeatedly reinforced by legacy and social media.”

 

This has all the markings of confirmation bias and both errors of commission and errors of omission. The attackers believed, and may still believe, the attack and killings were justified.

 

As revealed by the investigation, the attackers did not subtract false data - an error of commission - and ignored or underweighted moderating information - an error of omission. This is a classic decision-making challenge. At this point, the reader may feel that suggesting the January 6th attackers were impacted by ignorance seems judgmental. Fair enough.


For this example, the author’s perspective is generally based on American law and cultural expectations:

  1. Do Americans have the right to protest? - YES, of course!

  2. Do Americans have the right to kill or maim while protesting? - NO, of course not!

  3. Do Americans have the responsibility to curate data and weigh all the facts? YES!


Perhaps, if the January 6th attackers had spent more time curating data and inspecting their beliefs, the outcome would have been different.


For a quick primer on confirmation bias and reasoning errors, please see:



 

Please see this article for more context on reasoning errors and cognitive bias:


 

Please see this article for more context on the weakening of individual voting power:


 

Please see this article for the root cause of U.S. vote weakening:



Notes


[vii] Congressional Committee Members, final Report Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, 117th Congress Second Session House Report 117-663, December 22, 2022, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GPO-J6-REPORT/pdf/GPO-J6-REPORT.pdf.


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