Poker Pro Annie Duke wrote an op ed piece about a quantitative reasoning study about interpretion of data of politically polarized issues. She is a Texas Holdem Poker Pro and the sister of Howard Lederer, part of the former Full Tilt Poker .
Duke reacted to a study from Dan Kahan and his colleagues that shows that those who are good at quantitative reasoning are more likely to show bias in interpreting data about politically polarized topics. Duke writes:
“When presented with data from a gun control study, a politically polarized topic, all subjects became more polarized in their conclusions, as expected. But the surprise here is that the more quantitatively adept subjects did not do better than their less quantitative peers in interpreting the data as they did in the non-polarizing condition. In fact, they did worse. The people highest in numeracy were more likely to fit the data to their pre-existing view on gun control. Those who were better with numbers were better able to manipulate the data to justify their conclusions when the topic was one that was emotionally charged and polarized.
“This study is disturbing news for rationality. Every day, we have smart people interpreting data for us. Telling us what to eat; whether we are making the world too warm; when, how and how often we should be working out; who we should be voting for and the list goes on…If it is true that smart people are more likely to fall into the motivated reasoning trap, better able to interpret and manipulate data to fit what they want to be true, then that paints a bleak picture for our reliance on the news we get.”
Duke tells her readers to be more critical of the world around them as well as aware of the bias in their own decision making process.