Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to seek out and remember only the information that confirms what they already believe. It’s human nature to want to fortify the foundation of our reality but it can get out of control easily.
Any disconfirming evidence throws their entire belief system into confusion and fear. It often fuels heated arguments that can have devastating effects.
Gripping tightly onto an illusion can do enormous damage to our mental health and relationships.
It can rip apart families and crumble lifelong friendships in an instant. If you thought your job was safe, it’s not. Virtually every important aspect of your life is at risk of its destruction.
People who have a confirmation bias will seek out evidence that confirms what they already believe. Or what they wish was the truth.
Otherwise, they’ll passively accept what everyone else believes.
At its core, confirmation bias is self-sabotage. It’s a form of deception we use to create illusions of an ideal reality. Effectively, we’re fooling ourselves with cognitive distortions.
Here are some examples of confirmation bias:
- Overconfidence bias occurs when you think your beliefs are always correct.
- The backfire effect causes people who are faced with opposing evidence to grip even tighter onto their old, false beliefs.
- The sunk cost fallacy is a phenomenon where a person avoids letting go of a belief or strategy because they’ve invested so much into it. Regardless of whether it’s harmful or wasteful to keep it.
- Anchoring or jumping to the conclusion that a story is true based on the first thing they’re told because it sounds right. Then they think the entire story is true, despite never gathering evidence to prove it.
- Unfriending or avoiding people with opposing beliefs.
- Googling information that you wish was true.
- Forgetting or disregarding all evidence that disproves your ideas.
- Filtering out all apps, websites, or news stations that don’t align with how you think reality should be.
- Rationalizing disconfirming evidence to sound like what you already believe.
- Sharing unproven social media posts that reinforce things you already believe.
The dangers of confirmation bias
Repeatedly consuming false information fortifies their beliefs, and can make people lose touch with reality. The repetition and enforcement of ideas are also a method used for brainwashing. The pathways to neurons are strengthened by repeating similar messages especially if they evoke a strong emotional response.
It gets worse.
The American Psychiatric Association’s official manual of mental disorders states that brainwashing can cause dissociative disorders over time. This mental disorder involves experiencing a disconnection between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity.
People with dissociative disorders involuntarily lose touch with reality. As a result, it can create many issues in their daily lives.
So, it’s critical to eliminate confirmation bias as soon as possible. Otherwise, things can go downhill fast and it’ll be so stealthy, that you won’t notice what happened. Till it’s too late.
Why do people fall for confirmation bias?
It might seem strange that people would choose to believe false information and then fortify those opinions daily. But it’s remarkably common.
The following are some reasons people have a confirmation bias.
- They’re naturally anxious or fearful of the world.
- They like feeling like they’re right and others are wrong.
- It takes a lot of confidence and courage to admit that what they’ve believed for a long was false.
- If faced with evidence that disproves their beliefs, they’d have to scramble for data to counteract it.
- It’s difficult for some people to accept the fact that they were wrong.
- To fit in with the group.
- The brain prefers the easy route.
Ways to eliminate the confirmation bias
1. Be willing to change your confirmation bias
First, you’ll need to be willing to let go of the old false beliefs for new truthful ones. Research things before believing them.
2. Question your long-held confirmation bias
“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. ”
— Bertrand Russell
Confirmation bias is the lazy man’s thought process. He doesn’t need to discover or realize anything. His thoughts and opinions are all spoon-fed to him constantly by the rest of the herd.
3. See if you can prove yourself wrong
“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity. ”
— Dr. Robert Anthony
This will take a heavy dose of bravery and some confidence but challenge yourself to prove yourself wrong.
Separate yourself from your usual, everyday opinions of a topic. Imagine if you were debating with someone else if it helps.
4. Avoid jumping to conclusions
Sometimes people judge people or situations with hardly any information. Then they hold on to that belief for a lifetime. Even as they learn new facts that invalidate their initial beliefs, they’ll grip onto their falsehoods even tighter.
So, when you’re introduced to something new. Don’t try to form an opinion immediately, instead, take the time to gather more evidence. Only then will you make a wise choice.
5. Explore new perspectives
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
— Alan Keightley
Branch out to more groups instead of being stuck with the same people who spout deceptive mantras forever. Never growing, never exploring. Wasting all their days and nights deepening their rut of existence.
Search for those who don’t follow the crowds mindlessly and strike up a conversation. They might open your eyes to new things you never knew!
It’s worth a shot, and you might also get a new friend.
6. Be hyper-aware of confirmation bias
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
― George S. Patton
Start being hyper-aware of the information you consume every day. If it sounds like the same thing over and over, then make a change.
You’re ignoring who you are and what you think, so random people can think for you.
Do you have the same opinions as everyone you know? If so, step back and take some time to be alone with only your thoughts.
7. Something is amiss if everyone you know thinks the same way.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
— Mark Twain
We are all created to be unique, one-of-a-kind humans. But so many throw this valuable quality in the trash and become like everyone else. Take back your soul from the group and embrace your ability to be different.
Find out what you like, instead of what everyone tells you you should like. Shock and maybe inspire your friends with some originality.
8. Don’t blindly agree with things you wish were true.
“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.”
— J.K. Galbraith
Make it a point to do some research that includes differing opinions from yours. It might be uncomfortable at first but soon you’ll be thinking for yourself automatically.
9. Quit social media if it has a lot of confirmation bias
“If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.”
— John Allston
Social media is a breeding ground for confirmation bias insanity. I used to use Facebook to keep in touch with my family because we live in different states. But over time it has morphed into constant hateful propaganda and conspiracy theories. It was depressing and disappointing to see family and friends spiral out of control. So, I had to walk away and I rarely use Facebook now.
If people don’t want to be helped, there’s no helping them.
It was difficult at first, but so worth it.
10. Realize it’s normal to make mistakes
Holding on to false beliefs because you think you’ll look stupid if you admitted you made a mistake. But really, you’ll look pretty ridiculous after years of brainwashing lies.
Eventually, you could be on the streets waving “The end is near!” signs and shouting insane theories at people.
Certainly, that’s way worse than admitting you made a mistake in judgment and then changing course. Even geniuses are wrong sometimes. Only they don’t refuse to admit it, instead, they learn from it and move on. You’ll be much better off if you do the same.
Wrapping up confirmation bias
In short, when you overcome the confirmation bias, you’ll reemerge into a much more intelligent, confident, and sophisticated person.
Take a break, or quit the social media confirmation bias endless marathons. In-person, steer the conversation away from repetitive propaganda to new intriguing topics and ideas.
You’ll reap the rewards of conquering your confirmation bias. I bet you’ll inspire others as well.
Instead of forever hiding in the dark, you’ll embrace new knowledge and even feel grateful for learning something new.
Now you can help others by sharing this article with those who are trapped in an endless loop of deception known as confirmation bias.
2 Replies to “The Dangers of Confirmation Bias and 10 Ways to Stop It”
Amazing articles that I always make time to read and always share with friends. Thank you so much. Jess
Thank you so much, Jess! You’re awesome 🙂