The Confirmation Bias: Your Version of Truth

There is no entity on this planet which is completely unbiased. Everyone is biased, including newspapers, news outlets and magazines.

What does this mean for you? 

The Confirmation Bias

This is one ubiquitous demon whose thread runs through all of us: the confirmation bias.

The confirmation bias states that when we search for evidence, we tend to give more weightage to evidence which confirms/reinforces our beliefs rather than that which forces us to challenge our preconceptions.

Put simply, when we set out to search for evidence, we often do so with a presupposed conception in our mind. And then we go out and look for evidence to reinforce our beliefs rather than challenge them.

An Example

Here’s a contentious issue.

Suppose you go on the Internet to search for the “truth” regarding whether vaccines are bad for health. But in the back of your mind, you have a presupposed conception that you want to believe that vaccines are bad for health.

During the search, you will reinforce this belief with “evidence” you find in favour of it and very safely discard, or perhaps to a lesser extent, ignore that which states that vaccines are not bad for health.

The end result? You end up believing what you want to believe. 

Research wasn’t really research. Truth be said, it was more of a search to reinforce your belief, which isn’t necessarily the truth. It was a search for your version of the “truth”.

What this means for you

It’s hard to believe anybody. Be it the conviction of the uncle next door that the country is descending towards communism and anarchy or your favourite newspaper with conservative leanings. Human or news outlet, this bias haunts them all.

Good morning! Here's a reminder for all of us. Every one on this planet is biased, including newspapers. Although it's much difficult to supress real facts today, the way newspapers put it and interpret it make clear their political leanings. I personally never take newspapers' word for it. Exploring the truth yourself is a better option. But then, we must remember that every one of us falls prey to the confirmation bias, the tendency to give more weightage to evidence which confirms or beliefs rather than oppose them. In short, be careful of what you believe. Including what you look up and research yourself. #goodmorning #belief #bias #news #newspaper #confirmationbias #magazine #reminder #psychology #skeptic #fact #fiction #truth #explore

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For instance, amongst newspapers, The Guardian is clearly centre-left, while The Daily Telegraph is known to be centre-right and conservative. Anyone with an understanding of the political spectrum and a familiarity with both these newspapers would know this to be true.

That newspaper or your favourite tabloid or magazine you so cherish reading in the morning might just be feeding you a false view of the world, their version of the “truth”. So might be the case with your favourite personalities, friends, family and mentors.


What you can do

It’s unimaginably difficult to overcome this omnipresent confirmation bias. A better option rather than blindly taking in what newspapers report is to do some research yourself. But then, humans too are as prone to the confirmation bias as newspapers are.

It’s a difficult problem, which doesn’t have an easy solution.

Here’s the least I can suggest at the moment:

  1. Know that the confirmation bias exists, and that it makes everyone have a biased view on the world, including yourself. This is by far the greatest thing you can do.
  2. Be critical in a healthy way. Blindly believing everything said isn’t really a good idea. It’s far better to dig into the issue yourself.
  3. If you’re extremely passionate about a certain point of view, you best delegate finding out the truth to someone else not as passionate about it. Thanks to the confirmation bias.

To your success,