[Ads-l] "confirmation bias" and "written out of"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Aug 13 03:41:11 EDT 2020

Aha!--Just as I had suspected! <joke>
Thanks, Garson. Your message gave me the idea to check the Dissertation data base.
It did not include the 1976 one that you found, but did include a 1977 hit:
"The confirmation bias was observed by Wason and Johnson-Laird (1972) in their four-card rule."
Adult Problem Solving With The Game Mastermind, by Virginia Walker Lawrence (U. So. Cal, 1977, p. 7)

I checked the 1972 book, Psychology of Reasoning. It does include the concept but not the collocation.

Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2020 1:58 PM
Subject: Re: "confirmation bias" and "written out of"

A Ph.D. thesis in 1976 used the phrase "confirmation bias" . It looks
like the author constructed a cognitive model which displayed behavior
that corresponded to "confirmation bias". Only snippets are visible
via Google Books, so someone would have to access the thesis to learn
more. One of the sections of the thesis was called "confirmation
bias". Nevertheless, this usage of "confirmation bias" might be too
technical for the OED.

Year: 1976
Title: Proteus: An Activation Framework for Cognitive Process Models
Author: James Andrew Levin
Thesis submitted for: Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, University
of California, San Diego
Chairman of Ph.D. Committee: Professor David E. Rumelhart
Database: Google snippets; confirmation with hardcopy required

[Begin excerpt]
We have already seen the confirmation bias of the Proteus framework,
since information seeking actions are driven by new activations. In
the abstract concept identification task, the presentation of a number
of positive instances generates the activation of one or more
organizing concepts. These organizing concepts activate all their
features, and the information seeking actions will be focused on these
strong new activations.
[End excerpt]

I also searched for "bias toward confirmation" to determine if this
concept was being discussed before the phrase emerged. The citation
below provides evidence that psychologists were aware of the dangers
of a "bias toward confirmation" by 1959 or earlier.

Year: 1959
Title: Prediction and Outcome: A Study in Child Development
Quote Page 36
Database: Information based on Google snippets; confirmation with
hardcopy required; WorldCat entry for the book suggested that the year
was accurate; probe for 1959 produced a snippet displaying "For
Printing November 1959".

[Begin excerpt
As to the effects of the process of outcome evaluation , we were most
concerned about the possibility that unintentionally raters may have
responded to the outcome data selectively and with a bias toward
confirmation. This consideration ...
[End excerpt]

Garson O'Toole

On Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 4:09 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
> I wrote a book review (below) that may not be of interest here, except, maybe for two phrases.
> 1) OED recently (June last year) added "confirmation bias" from 1977. So far I haven't found an earlier use.
> 2) In a Daily Beast article (google-able by the following phrase): "...plausible scholarly argument for the idea that Mary Magdalene was written out of the Bible and the history books."   This seems to me an overstatement concerning some unstable text in manuscripts of the Gospel of John. In any case, I wonder if there is discussion about the history of  "written out of" or "into."
> Stephen
> REVIEW: Ariel Sabar, Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife (NY: Doubleday, 2020)
> At a glance, the fake so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife might seem to be old news, but this investigative report reveals new aspects that should concern us. And it documents and engagingly narrates the appalling train of academic mistakes.
> “Confirmation bias” is a term that may go back merely to the 1970s, but as an occasional reality it is as old as humanity. Sometimes one of us becomes dead set in believing just what one wishes to be true. (Could such a custom-fit “ancient” text be manufactured to mislead me? Neveryoumind.)
> At first, Prof. Karen L. King reportedly thought an email offering a papyrus with Jesus mentioning “my wife” was quite likely a fake. She had published on the manuscript in Berlin of the Gospel of Mary. And here was a man claiming to have on him a related manuscript! It turned out that he was also experienced in Berlin, West and East. But she later changed course, and ran with it, despite red flags. (Disclosure: my late dear Mom graduated, cum laude, from Harvard Divinity School; I think her favorite prof was Krister Stendahl.)
> Harvard Theological Review got, for King’s proposed article on this margin-less non-continuous pastiche odd text written with something other than a traditional pen, two negative peer reviews. For the third reviewer, see page 285. They did delay publication until tests showed that the ink was carbon-based—ink that anyone can make today—and that the papyrus was genuine—but dated not to ancient but to medieval times! As Myriam Krutzsch and Ira Rabin (New Testament Studies 61.3 2015) and others caution, scientific tests can check for anomalies, anachronisms, but these are not authenticators.
> Here are some quibbles with the book, maybe minor. Sabar helpfully mentioned other suspected fakes. But he wrote (p. 34) about Morton Smith’s “Secret Mark” that “Eminent scholars added the Secret Mark letter to the standard edition of Clement’s works.” And (p. 35) “That Clement wasn’t known to have written letters made the find all the more curious.” Adding, provisionally, a text uncertainly attributed to an ancient author is hardly an endorsement. (Compare editions of Posidonius.) And Smith in his snarky article, in Harvard Theological Review 1982, “Clement of Alexandria and Secret Mark: The Score at the End of the First Decade,” may have overstated the extent to which the letter was accepted as genuine Clement; at least one scholar listed as agreeing has denied that. (See also Eric Osborn, “Clement of Alexandria: A Review of Research, 1958-1982,” Second Century 1985 291-44.) And Clement was indeed said to have written letters. Sabar cited (pp. 15-16 and endnote) a 1989 article by Tal Ilan on how extremely widespread was the most-popular female name, Mariamme or Maria, which is fair enough, but better, with considerably more data is her 2002 book, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity: Part I, Palestine 330-BCE-200 CE.
> One of the values of this fine and readable book is its emphasis on the importance of investigating provenance. Especially of claims of “writing into” or “writing out of” important ancient texts.
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