Bias in the News

(Note: This work was conducted with Robert Loughnan of the UCSD Cognitive Science Department.)

The role of the news media is ostensibly to inform. In order to do this, however, the media must present information in a relatively unbiased way. If citizens obtain information about the world primarily through the media, and the media presents this information through a biased lens, the public acquires an analogous bias. So how successful is the media in presenting an unbiased perspective?

Continue reading

The Rhythm of Conversation (pt. 2)

People take turns talking during conversation. As discussed previously, the timing of this turn-taking process is remarkably fast, and happens largely beyond our conscious awareness. This raises the obvious question: how do speakers manage to transition between turns so quickly, and so successfully?

Continue reading

What is ‘innateness’, anyway?

A recurring question in both scientific and public discourse is whether any given property of an organism is innate or learned. This debate, usually framed in terms of Nature vs. Nurture, often centers around properties of human behavior and cognition: intelligence, language, morality, mathematics, and so on. But while this dichotomous framing perhaps seems obvious to us now, when did the question first arise? And is it really the best way to investigate these properties?

Continue reading

Biased language

Bias is real – and often harmful. It’s been shown to manifest in hiring decisions, in the training of machine learning algorithms, and most recently, in language itself. Three computer scientists analyzed the co-occurrence patterns of words in naturally-occurring texts (obtained from Google News), and found that these patterns seem to reflect implicit human biases.

Continue reading