Bias metabias

Motivated reasoning not only can, but does motivate thinking about motivated reasoning. Our awareness of cognitive bias can be biased — biased in where we notice bias or unfairness, biased in where we assume that objectivity or fairness reigns, biased in where we assume charges of bias from others aimed at us are mere projections of their own bias.

When we assume these theories are (through some metacognitive magic) exempt from their own implications — when we take these ideas at their word without subjecting them to the critical scrutiny they prescribe for all other ideas and practices — we feel like we have transcended naivety. In fact, we have only deepened our naivety, through the naive conceit that we have transcended naivety.

Without a twinge of conscience — or even ironic self-awareness — we view ourselves as the most competent and altruistic of reasoners and cognitive bias counterbalancers. Because we have “done the work” and neutralized our own self-interested biases, we are not only qualified, but obligated to use whatever power we have at our disposal to impose objectivity on those who, in our unbiased opinion, are biased, self-interested and dangerously authoritarian.

What could possibly be self-interested about maximizing your own power and using it to suppress all opposition if your intention is to use power responsibly and altruistically to make things equitable for all people?

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