I learned a new term yesterday “confirmation bias.” Of course, I was told I have it. Someone in The Real Side Radio Show chatroom made it abundantly clear in a decidedly condescending tone that it was a problem for me. Now I’ve been called a lot of names and accused of a lot of things, but this was a new one.
So I took to the internet to see what I was doing wrong now. Science Daily says that confirmation bias is:
A tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.
Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study.
Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.
As such, it can be thought of as a form of selection bias in collecting evidence.
Hmmm… interpreting information in a way that confirms one’s own preconceptions (the bold underline was added for emphasis). That’s what I was accused of doing. Yet the person on the other side of the argument was doing the same thing.
Isn’t this, at it’s most basic level, what you get when 2 people debate a topic? Each will state their case and defend it based on the information they have. Each believes their conclusions to be correct and are providing evidence to prove it correct. So don’t BOTH people have a “confirmation bias”? And if so, how can one accuse the other of it without also accusing themselves?
When someone is passionate about a topic, it’s difficult to maintain complete objectivity. So there will almost always be a bias. The key is to always be open to new information and hearing other sides of the argument without immediately trying to negate or deflect it. Can you do it?
No one said it would be easy.
Photo credit Anant Nath Sharma