Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Cheng and Confirmation Bias
I found Cheng’s opening paragraph quite interesting in that he spent much of it subverting the generally accepted interpretation of “The Dead” by the institution. He accuses the academy of “defang(ing) and neutraliz(ing)” the message in Joyce’s work. He raises many good points in the second paragraph regarding the scope of who accepted his work and who did not. He found that younger scholars tended to be more sympathetic towards his view, while the older more established scholars, including one whom he respected very much, tended to shy away from his view. He noted that this was probably due to the fact that the older scholars did not care to see something that they have invested their lives to be questioned or possibly overturned. This brings us to a matter of interpretation and how we interpret a text. The older scholars wanted their ideas to be accepted because they had spent their lives getting to this point. The problem with this is it often has negative affects on good scholarship. The academy simply will not accept a position that threatens to disrupt what they have worked for. In my psychology classes this is referred to as confirmation bias. The older scholars are letting their age and perceive experience taint their interpretations of the texts.