Scapegoating Sandy

Nov 19 2012 @ 7:19pm

Ryan D. Enos finds little evidence that the hurricane significantly impacted the election. But that won't stop pundits from blaming it for Romney's loss:

Attribution error (which has many other names and sub-theories attached) is a sweeping psychological concept that simply means humans try to explain the causes of behaviors and events – but we are bad at it. The theory says we tend to act as "naive scientists", so we often attribute causal explanations to things that occur at the same time: a poll moves after a debate, so the debate must have caused the poll to move; a storm happened before the election, so the storm must have caused Obama to win. This is not because people are stupid or incapable in a general sense, but just because we usually rely on heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to make sense of events. Concepts like partisan stability, regression to mean, and economic fundamentals are hard to understand, so as naive scientists we use the mental shortcut of correspondence in time to attribute cause to effect.