14_Handout_InterestingReading

14_Handout_InterestingReading - ACC 333 (Farrell) Class 14...

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ACC 333 (Farrell) Class 14 Fall 2011 Page 1 of 5 I'm O.K., You're Biased By Daniel Gilbert The New York Times, April 16, 2006 Verizon had a pretty bad year in 2005, but its chief executive did fine. Although Verizon's earnings dropped by more than 5 percent and its stock fell by more than a quarter, he received a 48 percent increase in salary and compensation. This handsome payout was based on the recommendation of an independent consulting firm that relied on Verizon (and the chief executive's good will) for much of its revenue. When asked about this conflict of interest, the consulting firm explained that it had "strict policies in place to ensure the independence and objectivity of all our consultants." Please stop laughing. The person who made this statement was almost certainly sincere. Consultants believe they can make objective decisions about the companies that indirectly employ them, just as legislators believe that campaign contributions don't influence their votes. Doctors scoff at the notion that gifts from a pharmaceutical company could motivate them to prescribe that company's drugs, and Supreme Court justices are confident that their legal opinions are not influenced by their financial stake in a defendant's business, or by their child's employment at a petitioner's firm. Vice President Dick Cheney is famously contemptuous of those who suggest that his former company received special consideration for government contracts. Voters, citizens, patients and taxpayers can barely keep a straight face. They know that consultants and judges are human beings who are pulled by loyalties and pushed by animosities, and that drug reps and lobbyists are human beings who wouldn't be generous if generosity didn't pay dividends. Most people have been around people long enough to have a pretty good idea of what drives their decisions, and when decisionmakers deny what seems obvious to the rest of us, the rest of us get miffed. Sell our democracy to the highest bidder, but don't insult our intelligence. So who's right — the decision-makers who claim objectivity or the citizens who roll their eyes? Research suggests that decision-makers don't realize just how easily and often their objectivity is compromised. The human brain knows many tricks that allow it to consider evidence, weigh facts and still reach precisely the conclusion it favors. When our bathroom scale delivers bad news, we hop off and then on again, just to make sure we didn't misread the display or put too much pressure on one foot. When our scale delivers good news, we smile and head for the shower. By uncritically accepting evidence when it pleases us, and insisting on more when it doesn't, we subtly tip the scales in our favor. Research suggests that the way we weigh ourselves
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2012 for the course ACCACC 333 taught by Professor Anne during the Fall '11 term at Miami University.

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14_Handout_InterestingReading - ACC 333 (Farrell) Class 14...

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