Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Law enforcement and weed

In the article "when misguided cops turn the war on weed into a war on growing things," the author, Nick Wing, writes about how law enforcement messes up during drug busts due to miscalculations, and lists a number of stories confirming his thoughts.

The confirmation bias is the tendency to search for information which confirms one's beliefs. In this case, almost the whole article is written with the confirmation bias. Nick states his belief, that law enforcement should "hire a botanist" if they want to continue "cracking down" on weed, and for the remainder of the article, he provides research that he has found of stories in which there were wrongful fatalities, wrongful, and sometimes without a warrant, home searches, and many lawsuits as a result. In one, a family was held at gunpoint as the police checked their home, only to find a basement full of tomato pants and watermelon plants that the son and father had made, which, as anyone can imagine, led to a lawsuit. Nick found many stories such as this, yet he found none of success on the law enforcement's part.

 The base rate neglect bias is the tendency to ignore generic information and focus on specific information. In the article, Nick is talking about the same thing over and over again. The same drug; weed, the same basic idea; miss-identification of weed, and that is all he is focusing on. He could broaden his subject by telling a different story; all the ones he lists are essentially an innocent person or family is wrongfully accused of making/possessing weed, the "weed" ends up actually being some sort of marijuana look-alike, and the family/person sues. That is how he is using the base rate neglect bias.

In the article "when misguided cops turn the war on weed into a war on growing things," the author, Nick Wing, uses two biases that could affect the readers opinion on the topic; the confirmation bias, in which he only provides information confirming his opinion, and the base rate neglect bias, in which he narrows his subject matter down very narrow, and only focuses on specifics.

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