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Your Morning Matters: Discussions about bias are not new

Advocates, lawmakers, regulators and the public still can’t get all documents relevant to the state’s $60 million House Bill 6 scandal.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, and at times it seems the country is split into pro-this/anti-that camps. And normally you see that reflected in debates over COVID-19. Or the election. Or which direction the toilet paper rolls should go. 

Well before the current state of upheaval over every single issue, experts were explaining why we are the way we are. In 2018, for example, Psychology Today had a column, "Why certain people will never admit they were wrong," which was revealing: "Some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, such a weak 'psychological constitution,' that admitting they made a mistake or that they were wrong is fundamentally too threatening for their egos to tolerate," wrote Guy Winch, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, keynote speaker and author of "Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts."

"Accepting they were wrong, absorbing that reality, would be so psychologically shattering, their defense mechanisms do something remarkable to avoid doing so — they literally distort their perception of reality to make it [reality] less threatening,” Winch wrote, adding: “... They need to warp their very perception of reality and challenge obvious facts in order to defend their not being wrong in the first place."

Kristin Wong of the New York Times took aim at "cognitive dissonance" in a 2017 article, ​​"Why it’s so hard to admit you’re wrong,” describing it as "... the stress we experience when we hold two contradictory thoughts, beliefs, opinions or attitudes. For example, you might believe you are a kind and fair person, so when you rudely cut someone off, you experience dissonance. To cope with it, you deny your mistake and insist the other driver should have seen you, or you had the right of way even if you didn’t."

Back in 2018, in Scientific American, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia and Flippo Menczer authored a piece, "Biases make people vulnerable to misinformation spread by social media," which concluded: "The tendency to evaluate information more favorably if it comes from within their own social circles creates 'echo chambers' that are ripe for manipulation, either consciously or unintentionally. This helps explain why so many online conversations devolve into 'us versus them' confrontations." 

I share these in the hopes that if you see such traits in yourself or others, you’ll be better able to consider how certain conclusions were made. Also, the toilet paper goes over the top, not behind. And you are wrong if you don’t agree.

Now, let’s make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today: 

Advocates, lawmakers, regulators and the public still can’t get all documents relevant to the state’s $60 million House Bill 6 scandal involving ousted Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, FirstEnergy and others. Barriers include protective orders, privilege and confidentiality claims, delays and other roadblocks.

“What we’ve seen to date suggests there’s a lot not to trust,” said Dave Anderson, policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute. Eye on Ohio reporter Kathiann M. Kowalski has a detailed report today.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 44,433,837 confirmed cases; 713,948 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 7 p.m. Oct. 11.
  • In Ohio: 1,470,267 confirmed or suspected cases; 22,819 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,482,236 confirmed cases; 29,907 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 29,465 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 21,927 in Trumbull; and 13,242 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,496.06, down 250.19 points, or 0.72%.

Other matters

The city of Warren reported two rabies-positive raccoons in September. As a result, beginning today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services will begin distributing rabies vaccine baits in parts of Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Mahoning Matters

Trumbull County Combined Health District will administer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster doses from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Eastwood Mall. Mahoning Matters

A quarter of all critical infrastructure in the U.S., including airports, fire stations and hospitals, are currently at risk of “becoming inoperable,” according to a new report released Monday​. Flooding caused by changing environmental conditions that fuel more severe weather is to blame. Mahoning Matters

Youngstown State University is reporting a decline in the weekly number of COVD-19 cases for the third week in a row. WFMJ

Lisbon and United Local high school students are coming together to elevate their historic rivalry with "Clash of the Cans." Each school is attempting to collect more canned goods than its opposing school. WFMJ

A benefit dinner in Lisbon on Sunday honored East Liverpool High School student Kaden Davis, a sophomore who suffers from muscular dystrophy. WKBN

EAP Ohio LLC has applied for permits to drill three new wells in Columbiana County, according to data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

Blaming a shortage of bus drivers, the Boardman Local School District declared as impractical the busing of 95 students, including multiple special needs students. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

In case you missed it

Gringo's, a tacos, tequila and mezcal bar, has brought a modern twist on classic Mexican cuisine to downtown Youngstown. Its most popular items include trash can nachos — a mound of tortilla chips atop a paper-lined table with a plethora of toppings — barbacoa, which is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for 12 hours, and a churro waffle with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Your comments matter

“Love his voice.”

Delinda Bittner, on country music artist Josh Turner coming to Packard Music Hall on April 21, 2022.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross will perform at Robins Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets, ranging in price from $40 to $70, can be purchased here and at the Robins Theatre Box Office, 160 E. Market St., Warren.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at mahoningmatters.com.

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 39 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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