Monday, April 27, 2009

The Sunk-Cost Effect

"When we have put effort into something, we are often reluctant to pull out because of the loss that we will make, even if continued refusal to jump ship will lead to even more loss. The potential dissonance of accepting that we made a mistake acts to keep us in blind hope."

I stumbled upon an online article from, a project of the right wing Media Research Center, concerning last Friday's Countdown show with Keith Olbermann. It basically criticized Keith and his guest commentators for alleging that former Vice President Dick Cheney was criticizing President Obama as being "weak," making the country less safe, and for justifying torture because it worked, because of the Bush administration due diligence we have not been attacked since 9/11, and that we were right to attack Iraq because they now will never become a "rogue" state with WMDs.
As for our current President being weak and making the country less safe, let me point out that it has been no accident that there has been zero terrorist attacks in the USA for the last 98 days. As far as torture "working," (it doesn't) I might add, if I run out of money it will work if I rob a bank to get more. If I can't stand someone, it will work if I murder them so I will never have to encounter them ever again. So extrapolating on Cheney's logic, robbery and murder are justified as long as they work (the point Mr. Cheney is missing of course, is that torture is against the law! Pure and simple. But these guys have always felt they are above the law, a sentiment that is being reinforced by the Obama administration's reluctance to investigate and prosecute the past crimes of the previous administration). And now we are safe from WMDs from Iraq because of our preemptive invasion of that country, while sustaining enormous costs in lives and treasure. I for one certainly sleep easier at night. Considering Irag and Suddam Hussein had no WMDs to begin with, had no ties with terrorist organizations, and was no threat at all to us doesn't enter into Cheney's argument because those are inconvenient bits of reality that negate his attempt to justify his callous barbarism. In the meantime, while being distracted in Iraq, we have let the Taliban and other extremist organizations threaten a weak government in Pakistan, a nation that does have WMDs, and which poses more of a threat to world peace than Iraq ever could.
To be crude, I can't stand these chicken hawk bastards who seek five draft deferments during the Vietnam era, and are so unwilling to risk their own hides in the service of our nation, but are so willing to spill the blood of other's sons and daughters in their ideological and corporate schemes. It's simply enraging.
Thank you for indulging my immaturity. The point of this post is not directed toward Mr. Cheney. He's a lost cause, and will soon reap his rewards. No, what concerned me were the comments this article elicited. Let me quote a few as examples:

bigtimer comments: Cheney speaks the truth, he minces no words....that is exactly why the left despise him and alway has been sad to watch what they have tried to do to this man...fear does that to the enemies within...and they are not done yet, not by a long shot.
Doubling down on stupid is not a particularly good idea. ~Andrew Breitbart

ten7s: Obama is certainly undermining United States national security, and VP Cheney is certainly correct to criticize Obama. However, the jury is still out on whether Obama is harming the United States out of weakness or intentional subversion. But I suppose Mr. Cheney must give Obama the benefit of the doubt and attribute Obama's anti-American actions to weakness.

10ksnooker: But I on the other hand I do not have to, no one can be this dumb, it has to be intentional. And as a clue I offer the rev Wright and his get whitey mentality, get even withem-ism. And who sat in rev Wright's church for 20 years?
If you need more, you can always go back and research Bill Ayers.
It's purposeful.

kevpot: Yeah, the President and Cheney got a sick pleasure out of deliberately torturing the detainees, in hopes they would confess to something, anything that they didnt do. Burning them with cigarettes, hanging them by their feet and beating them, tying them up and pushing them off rooftops, hooking them up to batteries, beating them in the face with phone books....all while Bush and Cheney watched from behind a glass partition, relishing it all in a sexual way.
Olbermann and his ilk are the 5th column. For years they have been harping that the war was illegal and was motivated by oil, instigated by the Evil Bush Cabal and Darth Vader Cheney. For the Left to even intimate that the Right is full of hate is damn laughable. It's been on display every single night for the last 8 yrs and continues still. If they want to have show trials for the Bush Admin, then the GOP should have show trials for acts of sedition by Olbermann and Co. Tokyo Rose had better manners than that pig.

And finally a word from Mozilla: Obama is the worst president ever. Sure seems like he is laxing security measures to cause either another attack for whatever reason or playing into the terrorists hands. Releasing memos of the torture is no good because then the bad guys know what to expect, although Obama will stop it and then what? They will get away with things and not give out secrets. That's what. Every single thing Obama does is bad and to appease his far left radical friends, voters, and troublemakers. I wish we had a totally different president. This is truly the first guy I have not agreed with one bit. The Kool aid drinking of some people is insulting to all Americans who want fairness, deceny, and for political parties to stop playing games and presidents to quit lying and do the right thing. Cheney said his opinion from his view point and he has a right. The fact is no attack since 9/11. Instead many plots have been foiled and bad guys have been caught. I can't wait soon enough for this nightmare to leave the White House. However sadly, I am also waiting, and not because I want it, for another attack. It's coming and it will make 9/11 look like childs play. This is what happens if you don't have security, cut defense budget and still have the people who did 9/11 around. So be warned that with this goon in the White House things can and will happen. In the words of Janine Turner, the actress, last fall...Obama will ruin America and make it a harbor for terrorists. And in the words of Biden, the worst VP, Obama is going to have a crisis coming. So watch out it's coming.

Well, how rude.
All of the above comments commit the same actions that they accuse Mr. Olbermann of doing. Providing unwarranted, biased commentary with little regard for the facts. Bigtimer states that Vice President Cheney is telling the truth. He is not. He rarely has. This is demonstratable and a matter of record. I like the quote, I wish he (or she) would adhere to it. ten7s is making an assumption that the President's actions to date (remember it's only been 98 days) are un-American, without offering a shred of credible evidence. 10ksnooker claims that the President is intentionally trying to harm the country, and by way of evidence he offers an association with two individuals that have nothing whatsoever to do with current events, and which has clear racist overtones. kevpot's first paragraph is sarcastic farce, the second, despite its disdain for Keith, pretty much sums up the truth... the right's hatred has been on display every single night for the last eight years. And Mozilla, well he (or she) is making the case that after only 98 days Obama is the worst President ever, that he's a traitor, retelling disproved Republican talking points, and hoping for another, greater attack on the U.S. simply to prove his point.
Certainly these comments are fueled by ideology and a stubborn refusal to admit that their position is out of the mainstream, and that they lost the election, driven by hatred, ignorance, and racist tendencies. What is it exactly that has caused their scorn? What has Obama been doing during his brief time in office?
He's passed "the 'largest' economic stimulus bill in American history. Ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay military detention facility and abolishing 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' Setting a fixed timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq. Ordering 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and enlisting, with modest new assistance, European allies in a new multi-layered strategy there and in Pakistan. 'Returning science to its rightful place' by lifting the Bush restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Signing laws to expand children's health insurance. Signing a law meant to improve the ability of women who allege pay discrimination to sue their employer. Diminishing the role of lobbyists in the White House 'Forge a meaningful statement from the United Nations' criticizing North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile. Lifting travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban Americans who seek to travel more frequently to the island and send more US currency to their immediate family. Engaging world leaders in Europe, Turkey, Latin American and the Caribbean with 'strength and humility,'" and improving America's tarnished image internationally as a moral and ethical leader on the world stage.
Boy, that is damning.
Why, I continue to ask, if the Republican/Conservative/Right Wing ideology is so true and correct, do they have to continuesly resort to lies, innuendo, bullying, slander, manipulation, cheating, and hate and fear mongering to achieve their goals?
In economics there is a term called the "Sunk-Cost Effect." It is fairly well described at the top of this post. I will relate to the term in regards to individuals belief systems as well. It doesn't matter which belief system, religious or political, the Sunk-Cost Effect applies to all. When someone invests so much of their world view toward a certain position, they will tend to hold on to that position despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The Sunk-Cost Effect can also be called a form of rationalization. The families of soldiers killed or maimed in Iraq come to mind, who insist that their sacrifice was worth it because they believed the lies of the Bush Administration. I am sympathetic toward them. How horrible it would be to admit the loss of a child was without purpose. I am not sympathetic with the drivel sited above.
The Sunk-Cost Effect poses a huge problem. It always has. It probably always will.
The only way I know how to counter it is to courageously explore wherever the evidence takes us, not where we would wish it to go.
It is highly uncertain we will ever, as a whole, be capable of achieving this sense of reality. I sincerely hope one day we can.

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