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Confirmation bias

  • The term confirmation bias has recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, though it has been in use for some time. English is a living language and changes often with the addition of new words and phrases taken from other languages, local regions, and various fields of business and study. We will examine the definition of the expression confirmation bias, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that is the tendency for a person to only consider ideas and facts that bolster his beliefs and conclusions. Confirmation bias is a trait of human nature that even intelligent people may be subject to, and is something to be guarded against. When conducting research, gathering information in order to make a decision, or being asked to judge the veracity of a situation, one must weigh all the ideas and facts and not simply consider the ideas and facts that are convenient or that support one’s point of view. If one falls victim to confirmation bias, he will think in an irrational manner and fall victim to one fallacy or another, or overconfidence. The human mind is subject to unconscious bias and information bias, and everyone must be vigilant in order to identify any bias blind spot. People have an aversion to contradictory information, and the inclination is to practice selection bias in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. The best way to avoid confirmation bias is to abandon any preconception one has about a given situation and try to remain unbiased. The philosophical idea of confirmation bias has been around since ancient times, though the term confirmation bias was coined by psychologist Peter Wason in the 1960s. Today, recognizing confirmation bias is key to making scientific and technological advances. The plural form of confirmation bias is confirmation biases.

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    Examples

    Confirmation bias, or the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories is running rampant in our society today, particularly fueling our political debates online. (Forbes Magazine)

    “Sometimes we see these human tendencies [toward prejudice and confirmation bias] reinforced by another tendency, which is people’s faith in the status quo,” Bazelon said.  (The Atlantic)

    “I think most police officers and prosecutors are well intended,” Hedland said, “but we’re all susceptible to confirmation bias.” (The Juneau Empire)

    “Although these findings are consistent with what we know about confirmation biases, we were still surprised that most participants were prone to them in a situation where it is much more clear that having a bias might be self-defeating,” says Gęsiarz. (New Scientist Magazine)


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