Confirmation Bias

We all know about the idea of confirmation bias — that you find what you want to find; your preconceptions influence you to the degree that you cannot accurately determine truth. I’ve always found this idea to be a bit overblown. The reality is that when you begin a search for truth, you always go out into the world to find it as it is, and then you are left with truth, because that is what you were after in the first place. I think some types of people are more susceptible to being blinded by confirmation bias than others. However, finding out who is rarely, if ever, explored.

To whom does this often happen? My theory is that it happens to people who think emotionally. People who respond primarily with emotion to a question, a problem, or whatever kicks off the search for information, will be the ones most likely to latch on to whatever confirms their biases, because it provokes an emotional response. “Whew, glad I was right!” they think and then return to whatever emoting they were doing before.

Contrary to what many atheists think, Christianity is not an emotion-based set of responses, however, those who do not have an actual faith, but who are participating in megachurch worship, addicted to signs and wonders, and who have all the hallmarks of a superficial and unrooted faith — yes, they are thinking emotionally and fall prey to confirmation bias. Then again, so do atheists who have created a perfect little box by which they understand some infinitesimal slice of the real world, and then spend their lives trying to make the rest of life fit that narrow box.

So, who thinks emotionally? Most political participants, most activists, most Hollywood actors, and most people who have a stake in some temporal empire — politicians (not those driven by ideals), scientists, everyone driven by hate (Islamists, racists), journalists, most pundits, and so on. That is, many people who allow their emotions to rule them will find themselves thinking emotionally, and as a result, they stay right where they are, never advancing or bettering themselves.

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