Are You Guilty of Confirmation Bias?

From What’s the Worst That Could Happen?  A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate. Chapter 3

Confirmation bias is our human tendency to go looking for evidence to confirm our beliefs but never seeking out evidence to contradict them.  We do it when we pay attention to only those things or events that confirm our beliefs or when give more credit to evidence that fits our ideas and less credit to evidence that contradicts them.  In his book Greg Craven gives us a few red flags to watch out for to check ourselves from falling into this trap.

  1. You catch yourself looking for evidence to support your view rather than evidence to contradict it.
  2. You find yourself thinking why can’t they see? It’s so obvious.
  3. You stop investigating once you find an answer you agree with.
  4. You are very confident of your views.
  5. You can’t come up with a reasonable answer to the question, What would it take to change my mind?
  6. You feel indignant or righteous. 

As a former fundamentalist and creationist I can tell you that these are very common among those groups of people.  As a Christian fundamentalist you don’t go looking for evidence to contradict you position because that would be dangerous to your faith.  You would be tempting yourself or putting yourself in harm’s way by doing that.  You focus on the truth and not the lies that Satan has created to blind us.  Red flag number 3 is pretty much the main issue with creationists and IDer’s.  Don’t understand how something could come about naturally?  The answer is God created it or designed it that way.  End of discussion.  To consider a naturalistic explanation would be heresy.  Confidence in your views is a must because doubt can be dangerous if not dealt with and demolished.  Consider changing your mind about God?  Never!  Righteous indignation is considered a virtue and many Christian teachers will actually tell people if you do not feel this when witnessing the immorality of this world then you  might not be a Christian afterall. 

I’ll confess that I have been guilty of all of the above and still find myself slipping into these fallacies even now.  We need to realize that we can’t trust ourselves.  We need to always question ourselves and look for ways that we might be wrong.  It will help us become honest with ourselves and others.


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