Editorial – The power of biases: This week strikingly underlines the power of biases and how much beliefs and wishful thinking may overtake our understanding and lead human actions, constraining among other the timeliness of ideas and policies. First, we have the sudden realization by Davos participants that yes, war between China and Japan is possible. Interestingly – and worryingly – it would seem that there, at least, China and Japan seem to have a similar and shared understanding of the situation, but would this be enough to start truly working towards de-escalating the situation?
Then, we have the Montreux meeting regarding the Syrian war, Geneva 2, where foreign diplomats insist on hoping to bring about even tiny positive results when, not only the position of those Syrian actors who are present are irreconcilable but, worse still, when a large part of the fighting forces remain unrepresented (without forgetting that political representation and international legitimacy are also a stake in all negotiations). Short of a real miracle or true black swan, what practical and positive step could truly emerge out of this conference, besides enforcing participants in their beliefs they have done everything to favour peace?
In the first instance, people confronted to different points of views by the main actors seemed to have been shocked out of their previous understanding, and thus biases might have been mitigated. In the second instance, it is much less obvious that a novel awareness is dawning. How various actors will be able to reinterpret the results of Geneva 2 according to their initial goals will determine if beliefs and thus comprehension will change and thus if biases could finally be minimized.
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