Category Archives: Culture

The Ever Present Problem of Confirmation Bias

We all believe what we believe and typically want what we believe to be true. Not only do we want it to be true, we believe what we already believe is true, otherwise we would believe something else. In short, we think we are right and other people are wrong, unless of course they agree with us.

It isn’t fun having your beliefs challenged. When your beliefs are challenged you have a few options: you can bury your head in the sand or you can try to defend what you believe. But maybe there is a third option, a better option. Instead of defaulting to defending your view you embark on a journey for the truth. Rather than confirming your already determined belief you are looking for the true belief.

When we move into defend mode we fall very quickly into the trap of confirmation bias – accepting data that confirms our view and ignoring data that challenges it.

The first time I can recall becoming aware of this propensity in myself was in college. I was studying the Bible with another student at Harding and as we would discuss (nice word for argue) about various biblical matters, I would get out a concordance (yes, an actual book!) and look up various words. I would toss out the verses that seemed to agree with him and make sure to show him the verses that seemed to back up my view. I hoped he wouldn’t know about or notice those other verses. Something in me told me it was wrong but that way okay, I justified, because I knew my conclusions were the right ones and so I just had to have the right data to back it up.

That is how confirmation bias works and that is how, if we are remotely aware of it, we justify it. That’s the worst part – when we justify this to ourselves because we believe our cause is the noble one. Noble causes make easy justification for bending and twisting things to ensure that the righteous conclusion (in our minds) is reached. But righteousness conclusions don’t want anything to do with unrighteous processes.

What if confirmation bias starts with the faulty assumption that what I already believe is 100% right in all aspects? What if a better starting point was a search for truth rather than a search for confirmation? Remember, most of us already think we are right.

Only then can we engage in a process of learning rather than a process of confirmation of what we already think we know. There will be some things that get confirmed over and over and we can be even more certain about those things when our attempt is not to confirm a predetermined outcome/belief but to find truth.

Be aware of confirmation bias. Be aware of your approach in what it is you are searching for: confirmation of a predetermined conclusion vs the truthful conclusion. This is hard work but it is worthwhile work. Thanks for reading!

Blame

There is plenty to go around but how much of it is yours to own? Blame. It is the gift we want to give but not receive…dispense freely but never hoard. Blame Blame sets you free when you hand it to someone else but feels like it imprisons you when you hold on to it.Continue Reading

One of the Most Dangerous Trends Today and 10 Tips to Counteract it

The dangerous trend is the rush to judgment without the facts. We react. We react quickly. We react repetitively. Our minds are being trained to view and respond, view and respond at such a fast rate that our accuracy is drastically diminished. How many different social media posts do you think your eyes scan inContinue Reading

The “Rolling in their Graves” Argument

Although we like to say that tradition doesn’t carry authority for us like it does in the Catholic church the truth is, in practice, many times it does. How many times have you heard an idea rebuffed because either “We’ve never done it that way” or “The people who started this church would be rollingContinue Reading

Hypersensitivity

Guarded – that’s a great word for our communication these days…at least for those who care. Those who care about others are guarded because people who care don’t want to upset people. That is a good thing but it makes having difficult conversations quite difficult. We have developed a cultural sensitization to offensive things. TheContinue Reading

Five Sources of Negative Cultural Syncretism in Christianity

Syncretism is the blending of different religions into something that isn’t really any of its original components. Some people call this a la carte religion. You pick a little of this and a little of that until you come up with something that agrees with your sensibilities. As secularism and secular-humanism is on the riseContinue Reading

What the United Airlines Debacle Has to Teach Us About the Importance of Context

We live in a world of instant and instant means that context gets kicked to the curb because exploring context takes time and that means instant is impossible to achieve. Take what happened the other day on the United Airlines flight. The first thing we saw were the videos. They came from multiple angles andContinue Reading

When The Pendulum Hits You In The Head

Pendulum swings are a necessary part of theological discourse. It is only natural that at times we find ourselves out of balance in a particular area and so we course-correct. What often happens is because we have been so out of kilter in a given direction we don’t really know how hard to push theContinue Reading

Christianity’s Enmeshment with the World, Fuzzy Identity and Our Corresponding Decline

Do you know your story? If you don’t know your story then you are susceptible to someone else giving you one. This is what makes the difference between the child who accepts the playground label that everyone else puts on them and the one who doesn’t. The person who knows who they are knows other’sContinue Reading

But What Is Your Perspective?

Post-modernism has given us the blessing and the curse of considering things from a multiplicity of perspectives. It is a true blessing to be able to step out of one’s own shoes and attempt to understand things from a different position. That is something we should attempt to do and often the result is aContinue Reading

Follow

Follow this blog

Email address