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