What is it in human makeup that makes us go looking for the answer we want? When did confirmation bias become the norm, rather than something to guard against? Despite my best intentions, I find myself reading Amazon reviews and if I’m iffy on a purchase I read the 3-star reviews and talk myself into not buying the book or dog toy or widget. Is it a symptom of not wanting to spend the money? Or something more insidious?
I really don’t want to turn in my philosophy degree over this so my promise to myself is that I will try to be less judgmental. I will try not to pre-interpret or favor the information that I want to see. I don’t expect this to be easy. As we grow older bias seems to calcify. You know the answer to calcification, clean liberally with vinegar. I can be both liberal, and vinegary. Accepting and rejecting. I just need to temper things with a spoonful of sugary substance. Like tolerance for other viewpoints.
Back in the Stone Age when I was a philosophy major, I thrived on different ideas and contrasting viewpoints. I devoured books on subjects I knew nothing about. My philosophy professor would whap me on the head with a rolled up thesis if he knew I wasn’t giving things a fair chance to state their case.
I’ve given up on reading the news for the most part. It is so polarized; it’s easy to fall into old patterns of reading only journalists whose viewpoints I agree with. I think it has to do with our society’s sports complex. We must be winners or associate with winners at all times, or there is doubt about our alpha status. (Man/Womanhood?) My side always has winning arguments. Or so it seems.
What do you do when faced with confirmation bias? I’m open to alternatives or ideas. My natural tendency is to burrow into my introvert cave and not come out to play but the way things are going these days, it seems cowardly not to have an opinion, express it, and back it up with facts. Even in the face of hostility. Can I do it?