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Beware the confirmation-bias meme, 4X4 edition

It’s really easy to see something on the Internet, and because it supports a view you hold strongly, you accept it uncritically. We’re all prone to it, and confirmation bias seems to be more of a problem when there’s tribalism involved.

So when this came up on my Facebook feed, I was intrigued.

Now I’m no fan of the Greens, but that looked like a pretty interesting statement. I should stress these meme is not made by, or endorsed by the National Party – it was shared on a non-official Facebook supporters group.

So I thought I’d check the source, and it didn’t take long to find the actual quote:

So as you can see, the actual comment has been deliberately reworded and taken out of context to be much more divisive. The technique is simple; find some facts, twist them a bit to create a strawman suitable for burning, set fire to said strawman, get angry about it, and enjoy the shared outrage which strengthens your tribe.

Even in the tweet thread, Julie Anne had to clarify:

Anyway, the actual point of interest isn’t Julie Anne’s comment about the advert, it’s Neale Jones saying it’s “surprising we allow this at all”. I don’t know exactly what he means, but I’m speculating he doesn’t like the fact that utes and SUVs are popular and roadcars are not. Personally I don’t see a problem with that, and it’s very much consumer-driven as carmarkers simply respond to market demand, and modern SUV is simply a roadcar that’s slightly taller than before.

There is however an interesting discussion to be had on 4X4 advertising, and it’d be cool to see the Ford Rangerettes involved in an ad because Ford’s current effort is pretty damn sexist. Why? Because it basically sends a message – “here is an attractive woman and what you need to do to impress her is drive a new ute offroad and fish”.

Yet, if you ask any woman, that is NOT what women want at all. So this message doesn’t do women or men any favours. And even the act of presenting a huge fish to an adoring woman is the cliché of clichés on dating apps.

So I would suggest Julie got it right, but also there is a further point to be made about cause and effect. Julie implied the advertising is the way it is because it’s effective, which is no doubt true…but how did men get to the point where such advertising is effective? In part because of advertising like that. So, time to break the cycle methinks.

The subject of women and 4x4s is both important and interesting, so I’ve written about it in some detail.

And if you’re wondering whether or not your 4X4 and camping lifestyle is bad for the environment, well, I’ve done a little analysis:

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