Category: Confirmation bias

Whatever You Think, You’re Wrong

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • In difficult times it’s natural to want an expert to tell you the definitive answer. We don’t deal well with uncertainty. Right now the social medias are chock full of people pontificating, lecturing, and shaming people by posting whatever “expert” opinion happens to fit their view of the world. The problem is… nobody really knows diddly squat yet. Seriously. Whatever you think we know is probably wrong to some extent. Every study you cite, I guarantee I can find an opposing study that says the opposite. It will be years and massive amounts of data analysis before we really understand this zombie bat flu virus. Seasonal influenza is probably the most studied virus ever – and we still don’t fully understand everything about it. This shit is complicated and takes a crapload of research to make any meaningful progress.

    This doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of truth in all the stuff you see being posted. It’s just that the real truth is nuanced, and will take a lot more data and time to tease out. Is Hydroxychloroquine an effective treatment? Possibly, given a very specific set of conditions we don’t understand yet. Are masks effective? Probably, given certain environmental conditions. Lockdown vs herd immunity? Way too early to fully make a judgement. The point is that real science takes time. Take every breathless claim posted on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube with a grain of salt.
  • The real failure is our governments inability to react quickly to actual measurable trends. They pick a one size fits all strategy and choose to die on that hill rather than adapt when data shows things aren’t what we originally thought. The under 65 and no comorbidities crowd aren’t impacted in any statistical meaningful rate by this pandemic. So why aren’t we modifying our approach to protect just those folks? Instead we’ll make everyone suffer because, god forbid, we admit we didn’t fully understand when this started. Changing your approach with the arrival of new (verifiable) data is the very foundation of good science. I think I read that somewhere.
  • We were finally able to join the modern era in internet speed. We live in the very first neighborhood built in our city so our infrastructure has been lacking. I was very pleased a number of years ago when we were able to upgrade to DSL and a blistering 33 Mbps download speed. They just ran fiber to our area and this morning I’m seeing 881 Mbps. Praise be, as the Handmaidens say.
  • Our hospital is virtually out of hand sanitizer. At least two-thirds of the containers on my floor are empty. How is this possible? As usual, reality on the ground doesn’t match the fancy claims our government makes.
  • I never saw Breaking Bad when it came out. Binge watched it the last couple of weeks. What a fantastic series. Just started Better Call Saul and it seems equally good.
  • Joe Rogan’s podcast jumping to Spotify is an interesting development. Google/YouTube’s censorship strategies are starting to get noticed.
  • In our corner of the world, this has been a cold, wet spring. It needs to get warm and dry soon or I’m going to lose it. Every day my motivation to go outside and recreate dwindles… which leads to my not caring what I eat. This is a poor combination. Sitting at home reading internet conspiracy theories on the social medias for hours is no way to go through life son

Song of the day: “Shut up and let me go” The Ting Tings

It Must Be True

Confirmation Bias – also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

If you haven’t been following the Nathan Phillips/Covington High School controversy the last few days… you’ve probably been living under a rock, and may be better off for it. If you have seen it, what was your first reaction when the story initially came out? Be honest.

The media showed a video clip of a high school student wearing a MAGA hat, with what looks like a an odd smirk, standing all up in the face of a native American banging on a drum. News reports said the high school students were shouting racial epitaphs and “build the wall”, and generally disrupting a peaceful indigenous people’s march.

Within nanoseconds the social media warriors had fired up the meme machines. White privilege, this is what a Trump supporter looks like, this is what white supremacy looks like, this is not my America, bla, bla, bla.

As Paul Harvey said, “and now the rest of the story”. It now looks like that’s not at all what happened. A group called the “Black Hebrew Israelites” seem to be the ones responsible for most of the racial epitaphs thrown at the native Americans. The high school kids were just waiting for their bus and began singing their school spirit song to drown out the inflammatory chanting. Statements by most of the kids seem to indicate they were all pretty confused as to what was happening.

And best of all… new video shows that it was Nathan Phillips, the native American drummer, who walked into the group of kids, got all up close and personal and began drumming right in one kids face. The kid just stood there respectfully and smiled.

Back to my question. How badly did you want the original story to be true? How certain were you that, of course a bunch of Trump supporting, MAGA hat wearing, kids exuding white privilege would do this? Because all Trump supporters are one step away from the Klan, right? There’s now several hours of video of the events and people are examining it second by second looking for evidence to support whatever side you’re on. I don’t really care about that outcome. The bigger point is that so many people rushed to pre-judge something that didn’t exactly happen the way it was portrayed.

Confirmation bias has become so rampant and damaging to society today. Unfortunately the news is helping to perpetuate it. Don’t be a part of it. There’s a difference between not agreeing with a policy or statement, and being so blinded by bias you read evil into everything. Wait to judge, take what you see in the news with a grain of salt, and stop being a part of the problem.

“We all see only that which we are trained to see.”

Robert Anton Wilson