Confirmation Bias is a juicy one. You will hear me referring to this concept quite a bit in future posts - I can pretty much relate this to everything. I'm like the dad on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who thinks all language is derived from Greek words, and windex will cure all evils. Confirmation Bias is something that we do every single day, it's something we do without knowing it, and a lot of bad decisions we make are as a result of it.
Our ego has a way of believing itself over all other facts, even in the most devastating of contrary evidence. It's why we seek friends who are like minded. It's why, even when we google to find out something, we gravitate towards and select articles that are appealing to us, rather than just read all of the information generated. It's why, when asked a question from a friend, we strive to understand whether they are the type of person who just wants validation and agreement, or if they really want the truth. You know that you think about this when you respond to someone.
Why do we cling to our own beliefs instead of constantly questioning them? Well, who loves to be wrong? Who isn't fearful of having done something the wrong way all this time? Who wants to prove to others that their beliefs are the right beliefs?
Somewhere along the way, it became quite difficult to be wrong, to change our minds, and to move in a new direction freely without judgment. I don't personally love to be wrong, but I seek to be. I am naturally a questioner. It's part of my personality. And as such, I am always seeking answers to my questions that will change my course of direction. That doesn't mean that it's necessarily easy for me to ditch my plan and sign up for a new one, but I'm the type who would rather know while I'm on the path than after I've walked it.
For example, let's say we had a general belief that butter is bad for you. You can google it, and find statistics and information to confirm that belief. And, since you have found information corroborating your belief, you graduate that belief to a fact. It doesn't matter how absurd the belief is, to others, or even to yourself, you've sought out information only to prove yourself right, and you received validation.
The thing is that doing research this way will almost always result in a confirmation of your beliefs.
So to combat this compulsion, the practice is to always assume you are wrong. Begin your line of questioning from ground zero. Play dumb (my favorite)! Be willing to be influenced. It is better to come from a place of complete ignorance, ready to learn, than to hold onto pre-established beliefs while you seek new information. This is the primary reason why, in my post from last week, I state that my preference is to be the newbie. I am never closer to the truth than when I know nothing.
The first thing I do, for example, when I am researching a hotel to stay in, a new restaurant to try, or a new product on the market, is I look at one or two of the top reviews (usually listed first) and a whole bunch of the worst reviews. I don't what to know that this place or product that I've chosen arbitrarily based on how amazing it looks on the website is actually amazing in real life... I want to find out whether there is any information out there to debunk my mental image. I seek information to prove myself wrong.
When you come from a place of vulnerability to answer a question, one of two things happens. You learn that you're wrong and you're able to accept it gratefully with a plan to change your path, or you have used every bit of information you can get your hands on to prove yourself wrong, but still couldn't... which means that you can move forward confidently with your belief, until the next time you may want to question it. I try to never elevate beliefs into facts, no matter how many times I've proven them true.
What I believe for me, is in the context of me. What I believe for me, is not right for anyone but me. Facts are myths. The most intelligent people on Earth are always prepared to accept a new answer; to change their course.