What is below is a snippet from a “political” article about the Affordable Care Act and the recent DC Circuit decision. Most of the article, though, is about better discourse and the way memories work, and I think it’s worth your time to read, no matter what your opinion is about the new health care law. Enjoy!
This is particularly true when there is an answer people very much want to get to. It’s called hindsight bias: Once we know the “correct” answer, we tend to believe that we would have figured that out even without being told. In fact, if we’re asked to predict the answer in advance, we will often edit our memories of what we did believe, to show that “we knew it all along.” This is not a conscious attempt to deceive someone else; it is part of the mind’s unconscious mechanisms for deceiving itself. Elizabeth Loftus theorizes that this has self-protective functions, helping to tamp down distressing memories and boosting our self-esteem. But of course this mechanism probably gets a powerful boost when you add in the sort of motivated cognition that we see around political topics.