Confirmation Bias Infects Elizabeth Warren’s Defense of Joe Biden

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The blaring Boston Globe headline says it all:  “Warren calls Biden’s denial of sexual assault credible, stands by her endorsement.”

The headline refers to an accusation of misbehavior by onetime staffer Tara Reade against former Vice President Joe Biden, while he was a United States senator from Delaware. The serious nature of the allegations have put Biden on the defensive and forced him to deny the charges publicly.

Still, Biden’s denials are unsurprising. “Deny, deny, deny” is the default position for any powerful politician facing charges of impropriety. Just ask Bill Clinton.

More awkward and shocking are the vehement defenses of Biden reflexively given by such self-proclaimed feminists as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. How quickly they discard the slogans about believing women. Instead, they resort to flimsy personal testaments to Biden’s alleged character or simple wish fulfillment based on his longtime support for abortion and, euphemistically, “women’s rights.”

Should Warren and others actually believe what they are professing, then they are likely practicing a form of self-delusion sometimes called “confirmation bias.” Because progressives like Warren claim to base their decisions on facts, science, and data, they will never admit to having their thought process so easily corrupted by their own preconceived biases. Facing such a reality would destroy their entire worldview, ideology, and inflated images of themselves.

Warren’s enthusiastic embrace of Biden points to the double standard that inevitably follows confirmation bias, especially in light of her implacable opposition to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who withstood unsubstantiated claims. Based on the Kavanaugh standard, which distorted a genuine confirmation process, Warren should be excoriating Biden. Flying in the face of her prior partisan stance, Warren is wholeheartedly defending her party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

“The vice president’s answers were credible and convincing,” Warren opined, regarding a less-than-stellar television appearance by Biden. “I support the vice president, I support his campaign, and I’m proud to endorse him for president.”

What happened to “believe women” and #MeToo?  Instead, the rhetoric flip-flops to “I’m proud to endorse him.” While there could be selfish motivations such as her inclusion on Biden’s vice presidential shortlist, the most generous explanation is summed up in the words “confirmation bias.”

According to most definitions, confirmation bias involves interpreting information in a way that supports one’s preexisting beliefs and biases, while refusing to search out or objectively evaluate anything that challenges those prejudices. It is, in effect, the opposite of even-handed and open-minded. According to Wikipedia, “The [bias confirmation] effect is stronger for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs.”

Warren displays all the characteristics of someone in the thrall of confirmation bias. Because of her obsessive opposition to President Donald Trump, she will believe anything, no matter how unlikely, that tends to prop up his Democrat opponent, Biden. The desired outcome of defeating Trump outweighs evaluating contrary facts and evidence.

Furthermore, Warren blindly supports Biden on the basis of the most “emotionally charged issue” of the past half century:  Abortion. Warren and Biden embrace an uncompromising position on Roe v. Wade, and Biden recently twisted his course to support taxpayer-funded abortions, in order to placate Warren and other progressives. 

It’s impossible to overestimate the amount of “emotion” that “charges” the commitment Biden, Warren, and liberal Democrats attach to “the right to abortion.” Thus their normal political opposition toward President Trump gets poisoned by an emotional animus, because of his unwavering pro-life policies and consistent appointment of wise constitutionalist jurists.

Finally, Warren is unquestionably committed to her set of “deeply entrenched beliefs.” Like many liberals, she is blind to unpleasant or contradictory evidence or allegations about their like-minded political ally Joe Biden. Unquestionably, a Biden presidential defeat on matters related to his personal integrity would undermine the Bay State senator’s “deeply entrenched beliefs,” which, like the former vice president’s, command the left side of the political spectrum. 

Because of her cold professorial demeanor and Harvard-certified intellect, Warren may come across as someone steeped in facts and information. In reality, she is no more immune to bias confirmation than any other ordinary human. In fact, Warren’s apparent self-deception over her preposterous claims of Native American ancestry points to someone easily swayed by confirmation bias, particularly when her deeply-held beliefs and self-image are at stake.