Confirmation Bias is the mother of all misconceptions. This Bias can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings, and dangerous ideologies. Without a clear understanding and specific prevention, this can affect your daily life. I will explain the confirmation bias, how it works, how threatening this can be, and how to avoid confirmation bias.
What is the Confirmation Bias?
Peter wants to lose weight. He selects a specific diet and checks his progress on a scale every morning. If he loses weight, he gives himself a high five. If he gains weight, he confirms this as fluctuation and forgets about it. Over months Peter lives in an illusion of losing weight, therefore, his weight remains constant.
It is a tendency to interpret information that fits our theory, beliefs, or convictions.
In other words, information that disproves our beliefs will be ignored.
We tend to form beliefs based on a couple of things. One is our Intuitions, just what feels right. Another is our subjective experience.
Dr. Joe Pierre ,Professor of Psychiatry, Ucla.
How it works
Firstly, everything starts with an assumption. And it can be anything. The earth is flat or that vaccines cause autism.
Secondly, you will research the information that fits your theory or listens to people who had proven your theory/assumptions. All these steps can bring up the most dangerous symptom.
Denial. The Confirmation Bias shows here its dangerous side when you deny all refutations of your belief. For example like Peter, you will forget about it or even worse try to disprove the threat to your belief. By denying, you exclude yourself from any kind of improvement if it does not fit your beliefs.
Assumption, research information that fits your theory, and possible denial is the cycle of Confirmation Bias.
The danger of the Confirmation Bias
Let’s take an example to clarify this Bias. Me.
And this will be a small confession to you guys.
I am the firstborn of the family. With this position, I inherited a lot of responsibilities towards my parents, my brothers, and also the task to represent my parent’s education in the best way possible. This means I had to be good at school, behave like a good kid, dress well, and all other traits like a CEO in your typical Korean drama. I am not sure if I did this consciously, but I truly believed in this and continuously proved my mighty being to others. Hiding all mistakes was my daily task.
At the age of 19, I thought I could conquer the world. Every university was easy-peasy for me if it’s not, the professor was just horrible.
Therefore, I thought I could get every girl I want if not, she was a bitch and not worth fighting for. I believed I was good-looking if not, those haters were blind or just idiots. My personality was incredibly arrogant, to a point that I could not accept any kind of critics against my belief, the belief that I was the perfect human being on earth.
In reality, I was just an average Asian dude who lived a basic life.
This is the danger of Confirmation Bias. It will set up an illusion in your mind, a belief so strong that you can never ever awake from, and cuts every kind of improvement if you do not wake up. Which in my case cost years to realize how pathetic I was. If I could saw it earlier, maybe I would not lose so much time of my youth and my first love.
“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”
How to avoid the Confirmation Bias
To prevent the same fate as me, I research some ways to protect yourself from the Confirmation Bias
1. Get rid of your Ego as soon as possible
No one, really no one wants to be wrong and it feels good if others validate our position.
Logically, it hurts if someone disapproves of our beliefs, which is typically normal. But at this point, we should not see this as an insult instead of room to improve.
2. Every outcome of your brain is basically shit
I am not sure who said this, but one IT-Guy said: “Every code is just garbage.”
This phrase, a fact, which also serves as a warning for all kinds of developers, says that there is always room for improvement to your code and that you should never treat your code as a creation from god itself. With this phrase, we cut down our ego and also reminds us that nothing is perfect or true. Basically just garbage. For you, Non-IT people, do not treat every thought or idea righteous or the truth itself.
3. Murder your darlings
To avoid the Confirmation Bias effectively, write down all your beliefs – whether in terms of your worldview, investment, morale, health, friends – and aim to find disconfirming evidence.
To summarize, Confirmation Bias is the fundamental cause to influence our views on the world. Depending on your belief, it can harm you more or less. The most important part is to be aware of it. If a thought hits you, first assume you are wrong and ask yourself at least twice if you are right. Once trapped in the Confirmation Bias it is hard to escape from it.
I hope you liked this post. Tell me in the comment section your thought.