Once you notice it, you cannot un-notice it. It is absolutely necessary to decisions, opinions, and actions, and yet, it is missing from the majority of today’s conversations. And that is critical thinking. The ability to think before believing and asserting. Far too often than we would like to admit, we jump to conclusions. Since childhood, we are told think and we accept them as facts. Its only natural since such beliefs are drilled into our evolutionary survival. A parent tell’s their child to stay away from the lion’s den because it is dangerous. If every child has to go investigate every claim, there will be no more children! They would all be dead. These are our ancestors. And although it is useful for survival, we must break away from this primitive and childish way of thinking.
It does not have to be a parent advising a child. The vast majority of beliefs held today are political or religious or both! Lets say I am a conservative youngster just beginning to look into the world of politics. I stumble across and article (conservative) that says Global Warming isn’t real. Because I self identify as a conservative, I would accept that as fact! Who has the time to research it? And since I know it is from a conservative source, I defiantly wouldn’t investigate, because it already confirms my belief. There is a lot of evidence that people seem to migrate to their own beliefs and read only sources that confirms their opinions. Imagine the relief they get when religious devotees are falling away from the church and attend service. They are over whelmed and no doubt relieved to see that so many people agree with their beliefs. One can easily see how this confirmation bias would work for the mentally insane – how overwhelmingly pleased they are when they find others to believe in their irrational yet convincing ideals. This bias, officially called the “Confirmation Bias” is well researched, but is not well communicated.
“If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration. Many have written about this bias, and it appears to be sufficiently strong and pervasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant fraction of the disputes, altercations, and misunderstandings that occur among individuals, groups, and nations.”
– Raymond S. Nickerson
Of course people know about it, but what does it have to do with them? Of course they are right. But I strongly believe that everyone falls victim to this dreadful bias. I have plenty of times! Remember that poor Conservative youngster from above? That was me! It took many years of stubborn fact searching but I finally became aware of it. I defiantly do not think I have it all figured out, but it is what we don’t know that makes people intelligent. I think the late Christopher Hitchens puts it best
“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks”
This is my goal for this blog: to tackle stories I find and break them down, if not for the reader, then for myself.