When it comes to politics, believing is seeing. Partisan Republicans see Barack Obama as dishonest; partisan Democrats see Mitt Romney the same way. Voters see candidates they support as truth tellers; they regard candidates they oppose as shadier. We are suffering from a national case of confirmation bias, the idea that we lend credence to information that confirms our opinions and ignore evidence that doesn't--even in the face of facts.
Michael Scherer's smart and insightful cover story on the fact wars suggests that truth in the 2012 campaign is in the eye of the beholder. To say that the candidates are out-and-out lying wouldn't exactly be true. The candidates see the world in different ways and deploy their own facts to confirm those views. The most disturbing truth in the story is not about the falsehoods of any one candidate but the scientific studies showing that voters with more information are likely to be more biased than those who know less. That's worrisome in a country where government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.
TIME is excited to be co-hosting the second annual Chicago Ideas Week beginning Oct. 8. This innovative event brings together an extensive lineup of influential speakers at more than 80 sessions across Chicago. We will be leading sessions on politics and disruption. For a preview of the latter, see the piece on disrupters on page 38, and for more about CIW, visit chicagoideas.com
I'm also delighted to tell you that Time won an Emmy on Oct. 1 for our moving documentary video and microsite Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience. You can see the videos at time.com/beyond911
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR