Confirmation bias and its significance in our lives

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Whenever most people hear or come up with an idea or plan they only look for evidence that validates their views. Due to our desire to feel pleasure and avoid pain and its unconscious influence, we manage to find evidence that confirms what we want to believe.

If people considered the possible negative and positive consequences equally, they might find it hard to take any action. That is why they lean toward information that confirms what they want to hear. People also tend to interpret what you say in light of what they want to hear. And if your advice does not match what they want to hear, they will find some way to dismiss your opinion. 

Why is this important?

Well, as we all know, the internet has provided us with an infinite amount of information. We are able to find studies that confirm all kinds of opinions. Let’s say you have a flat-earther friend that genuinely believes the earth is flat. One day, he approaches you and shows a bunch of clips, documents, and interviews that seem to validate his opinion. In reality, most of the “evidence” he shows you is either altered or outright fake. 

When you solely look at the fact that he has evidence, you might feel compelled to at least consider the possibility that his opinion is true or question what you already know. While this example may seem far-fetched, it happens to way too many people. They see crazy theories with so-called evidence on the internet, start to believe them, and proceed to preach it to everyone around them. 

Stopping the problem…

If you want to stop this problem, you should never accept the validity of people’s ideas because they have supplied “evidence.” Instead, examine the evidence yourself in the cold light of day, with as much skepticism as possible. As Robert Greene says, “Your first impulse should always be to find the evidence that disconfirms your most cherished beliefs and those of others.” 

This doesn’t just stop lies but also stops scammers from deceiving people. People fall for scams like Ponzi schemes because they believe the things they hear and never question “evidence” given to them. 

One last note for you…

One last note, do this to yourself too. People like Pericles became great leaders that the public admired by finding the pros and cons of whatever they wanted to do. Pericles, a man admired by everyone for being a great leader, would not only listen to people that told him how his ideas could work but also skeptics that did not believe in his ideas. That’s how Pericles became a successful individual. 

Not considering the other side of things when making a plan can have a few consequences. For example, if you are an employee and present an idea or plan to your boss with evidence that only supports your claim and that project does not work, you’re going to be humiliated and probably ridiculed for making a flawed plan. On the other hand, if you had considered the consequences of your plan and prepared for them, you would be awarded and have a successful plan. 

Lesson: Never accept the validity of people’s ideas because they have supplied “evidence.” Instead, examine the evidence yourself in the cold light of day, with as much skepticism as possible. As Robert Greene says, “Your first impulse should always be to find the evidence that disconfirms your most cherished beliefs and those of others.” 

Book: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

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