The Dangers of Confirmation Bias: Why We Need to Be Careful What We Believe

Beth Bradford

November 7, 2022, 10:55:56 AM

If you're not careful, confirmation bias can lead you down a path of believing things that aren't true. Learn more about this dangerous phenomenon and how to avoid it.

Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing. It can lead us to believe things that are not only untrue, but potentially harmful. This is because confirmation bias causes us to focus exclusively on information that supports our beliefs, while ignoring any information that contradicts them.


This can lead to a false sense of certainty, which can cause us to make bad decisions based on faulty information. It can also cause us to ignore warning signs and think that everything is going well, even when it is not.


Confirmation bias is particularly dangerous in the world of politics and news. It can lead people to believe things that are not only untrue, but also potentially harmful to their country or community. As such, it is important to be aware of confirmation bias and be careful not to let it distort our view of the world.


What Is Confirmation Bias?


Peter Wason conceived confirmation bias in 1960 when he considered how irrational our thinking can often be. He found that even intelligent people can be unwilling to test their beliefs. In sum, confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and to ignore information that contradicts them.


It is a natural human tendency, but it can be dangerous because it can lead us to make bad decisions based on inaccurate information. We can end up believing things that are not true, or that are only partially true, because they fit with our preconceived notions.


Confirmation bias can also lead to divisive and polarizing attitudes, as we become more and more entrenched in our own beliefs and less willing to consider other points of view.


How Does Confirmation Bias Impact the Way We See the World?


Confirmation bias can have a serious impact on the way we see the world.


When we encounter information that confirms our existing beliefs, we are more likely to believe it. We may also ignore information that contradicts our beliefs, or even distort it to fit our views.


This can lead to a dangerous polarization of opinions, where people come to see the world in black and white terms, with no room for nuance or compromise. It can also lead to a dangerous level of dogmatism, where people are so convinced of their own views that they are unwilling to consider any alternative viewpoints.


This is easily seen in the polarization of politics in the United States. We need to be careful not to let our confirmation bias cloud our judgment and prevent us from seeing the world as it really is.


Examples of Confirmation Bias in Action


Confirmation bias can have a serious impact on our lives.


Let's say you read an article that confirms your preexisting beliefs about a certain topic. You are likely to share that article with your friends and family, who will then also believe what you believe. This creates an echo chamber in which everyone is only exposed to information that supports their own views.


Confirmation bias can also lead to discrimination. If you believe all Democrats are evil, then you won’t see the uniqueness of anyone who might have liberal beliefs. If you believe all Republicans are racists, you might not carry a conversation with a Republican. Similarly, if you admire a political figure, you will ignore any information that might show he is morally bankrupt or breaking any laws.

It is therefore essential that we are aware of confirmation bias and take steps to guard against it.


Why We Need to Be Aware of Confirmation Bias


Confirmation bias is the tendency to pay more attention to information that confirms our beliefs than to information that contradicts them. It's a natural human tendency, but it can lead us astray if we're not careful.


When we're confronted with evidence that contradicts our beliefs, we have two choices: we can either change our beliefs or we can find a way to justify them. Most of us prefer the latter option, because it's easier than admitting that we might be wrong. This makes this theory similar to the theory of cognitive dissonance.


This is a dangerous tendency because it can lead us to believe things that aren't true. We may start to think that our opinion is the only one that matters, or that we know better than everyone else. This can lead to all sorts of problems, both personal and social.


How to Avoid Succumbing to Confirmation Bias


Now that you know what confirmation bias is, here are a few ways to avoid succumbing to it:


  • Be open-minded: Don't just accept information that confirms your preexisting beliefs. Be willing to consider other points of view.

  • Check your sources: Make sure you're getting your information from reliable sources.

  • Think critically: Don't just accept information at face value. Take the time to analyze it and see if it makes sense.

  • Be patient: It can take a while to weed out false information from true information. Be patient and don't be afraid to do some extra research.


Conclusion


The internet and social media have made it easier than ever for us to find information that supports our views, but this can be dangerous because it can lead to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them.


This can lead to us becoming deeply entrenched in our beliefs and refusing to change our minds, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. It can also cause us to make bad decisions based on flawed information.


It's important to be aware of confirmation bias and the dangers it poses, so that we can make informed decisions based on all the available evidence. We need to be careful not to let our biases cloud our judgment.