How to beat confirmation bias

Confirmation bias:

“The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.”

No matter how objective or reasonable we feel our opinions are, this psychological fallacy plagues every single one of us. From our sociopolitical opinions on down, we will always find it easy to find evidence which agrees with us and difficult to stomach evidence which disagrees with us.

With the power of the internet, one is guaranteed to find something somewhere (or a lot of things in a lot of places) that confirms what they already believe.

There are entire flat-earth communities. Q-Anon has over 10,000,000 members.

Mark Manson said:

“You used to have to go to medical school for two years to have an opinion on a vaccine. Now you just scroll through Facebook for 20 minutes.”

He’s right. Today, a person can decide what their opinion is, look at their phone, and find millions of people around the world who support and agree with them.

I hear people spouting their opinions with the confidence of a seasoned expert. Then, after a few questions, I see how shaky their arguments are.

So how do we combat this? The answer isn’t super fun.

It’s exposure.

The healthiest and most challenging thing we can do is spend intentional time researching the other side…

• Google “{my opinion} debunked”
• Have curious conversations with people we disagree with—for the sake of hearing new perspectives, NOT with the goal of changing minds
• Listen to podcasts/read books that challenge our beliefs

I’ve spent many hours doing all of this in 2021. This shit is hard.

It’s not mentally or emotionally enjoyable to pursue ideas which disagree with the ways we see the world. But it sure is healthy. It:

• strengthens our curiosity muscle
• lessens our tendency to be triggered by those we disagree with
• shifts our value of “being right” toward learning new things

Try it out. What are some opinions you would be uncomfortable putting to the test?