Cognitive Bias and Democracy

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Idea: Corporate Personhood Bibliography

Under the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case and Money As Speech, corporations are permitted to spend as much money as they want to affect political outcomes.

This fact means that our government will not be able to regulate foreign influence in our political process since any foreign person, company or government can buy corporations on the stock market.

There appears to exist some powerful psychological process that is preventing our journalists, activists and government officials from perceiving the danger to democracy of the free flow of foreign money into our political process via corporate ownership.

Foreign Influence and Social Media
At just about every level of American society, if a person is asked: "How do you feel about foreign influence in our political process?" Most people, if not everyone, will answer that there is no place in American politics for foreign influence. Public officials, activists, and journalists would probably be the most forceful in this opinion. Further, most people would agree that foreign influence in politics needs to be prevented and if found, it ought to be stopped.

A great deal of journalism in our current era of "Social Media" has been calling into question things like "did the Russians influence the 2016 election?" Reports on this topic often are written to highlight how undesirable this influence is and how the government and the social media companies ought to "Do Something." With this kind of criticism in play, services like Facebook are reporting that they are applying a growing amount of attention to this "problem."

The Question for discussion:
Why is it that the media, activists and government officials are not seeing (or at least not talking about) the damage that has been done to our political process by corporate personhood, money as speech and the Citizens United decision? It is important to note that not only has Citizens United granted the permission for unlimited corporate spending, but also the country needs to pay attention to the fact that any foreigner can have as much influence as they wish simply by owning shares in a corporation.

  • Is some form of cognitive bias at work here?
  • Or, is there something else?
  • What is causing this blind spot???

Congress and Corporate Spending
There are many instances in recent memory in which the United States Congress and the Federal Government various agencies have created rules that limit how corporations can influence the public. One example comes to mine easily. Tobacco companies have been forced to include an announcement prominently displayed on their products that cigarette smoking is dangerous.


A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.[1] Individuals create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality. -- Wikipedia

See Also