Confirmation Bias Illustrated

As I have argued many times (here, for example), we like to think that we carefully gather and evaluate facts and data before coming to a conclusion.  But we don’t. Instead, we tend to suffer from confirmation bias and thus reach a conclusion first.  Only thereafter do we gather facts and see those facts in such a way as to support our pre-conceived conclusions.  When a conclusion fits with our desired narrative, so much the better, because narratives are crucial to how we make sense of reality.  In other words, we want to think we’re like judges searching for truth impartially when, in fact, we’re much more like attorneys running around hunting for any argument that we think might help.

With that preface, consider my friend Ben Malcolmson.  He’s a terrific guy and very good buddies with both of my sons.  He also has a great story.  Ben posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

And on Twitter:  “It’s sad that ESPN and Packer fans have sucked all the fun out of a win that should’ve been one for us to cherish and enjoy.”

At first glance, this looks nuts, right?  Nobody really thinks the right call was made, do they? But when we consider that Ben is close to Pete Carroll and works for the Seahawks, we all nod our heads and intuitively get it — it’s confirmation bias writ large.

Unfortunately, we’re all as susceptible to it as Ben is.  Moreover, due to our overarching problem (the bias blind spot), we tend to think the problem applies only to others.  As if….

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One thought on “Confirmation Bias Illustrated

  1. Pingback: Reading the Breadth Map | Derek Hernquist

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