We’ve all got something that makes us something.
– the chicken-thigh-(or turkey-leg?)wielding “instruction worker” via The Lego Movie
Yesterday, Ee and I were having some discussion about something neither of us can remember now, but the point of this … bringing-it-up-ness is not about what we were talking about anyway. The point is that at the end of the conversation, he said something like, “You never take my advice anyway, ” to which I responded, “No, I always take your opinion into consideration, and if it aligns with what I was already thinking then, yes, I always take your advice.” To this, he responded, “There’s good old confirmation bias, for ya,” or something to that effect. Obviously, I know what “confirmation bias” is, [quickly searches the Google]. Confirmation bias “is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses” (Plous, 1993). The term is not lost on me, I’ve come across it before, and it’s pretty self-explanatory [yeup, uh huh!]. Nevertheless, when Ee had said it jokingly as a response to my reasoning, new light was shed upon the quote, “bias.”
People throw the term around a lot these days when considering the political climate of the U.S.A., but no one really says why being biased in confirmation is so … damaging? … pathetic? … wrong? Perhaps everyone else in the world is simply that much smarter than I; it’s more than possible that I’m stupid and missed it. No matter, the why occurred to me yesterday. What I figure is that confirmation bias is “bad” because it means that you, as someone suffering from the “bias,” fail to learn anything new. You only believe or acknowledge things as truth if you already believed or acknowledged said thing as truth. Um, a great example of this would be … let’s say … shit, yea I’m too stupid to come up with an example to prove my point. Dammit.
What about friendships. Uh, so here, take friendships for example. You’re not friends with people you don’t like and who don’t like you, right? There, I did it. I think that most people think that they’re awesome. If you don’t think that you’re awesome, it’s because no one’s ever told you that you’re awesome, but here I am! You’re awesome! Anyway, so, most people think that they’re awesome. If someone else confirms that you’re awesome, you’re going to keep them around or, at the very least, think that they’re pretty awesome [and totally correct] for acknowledging your awesomeness. If someone comes up to you and says that you suck, well, you might believe them [unfortunately, not enough people do], but the more likely scenario is that you’d get pissed and think that they’re the ones who are not awesome for not thinking that you’re awesome, cause “Look man,” you say to them, “My mom totally thinks I’m awesome.” Oh geez, I fucked that up. Anyway …
Confirmation bias is “bad” because when you surround yourself with “yes men” [fuck], “yes women and/or men,” then you don’t realize or are never exposed to THE OTHER SIDE! THE OTHER SIDE being all those other people, probably the vast majority, who do not agree with the things you acknowledge as simple, plain fact. Put simply, If you label any or all interaction that you deem distasteful or that “hurts your fucking feelings” as negativity and wish that all negativity would vanish because it makes the world a harmful and hurtful place, you’re suffering greatly from confirmation bias. You’ve surrounded yourself to deeply with only the sorts of people who love and adore you to such an extent that you’re unwilling to make yourself a better person when someone looks at you and says, “You need to wear pants,” and you get all pissy and respond, “I’m doing me!”
Uh hem … anyway, I’m talking about me here, so I’m not trying to get all riled up by these obnoxious … teenagers? who are all riled up about us … Millennials? I dunno. My point is that it got me thinking, because obviously, we all suffer from confirmation bias because how else could you get anything done if you listen to the whims and comments of every single person you encounter? You can’t. You’d just be a … again … too stupid for a good simile. My issue is quite specific at the moment. I’m reading a book –for the first time since leaving school when reading mandatory books was … mandatory … thus leaving me no choice but to read books I don’t like, even when I didn’t like them– that I don’t like. I was complaining to Ee two days ago, after reading about twenty percent of the thing. It’s an award winning piece of fiction, and honestly, I just don’t get it … still. I’m further along in it now, and it’s just a linear [looking back at the past, but still moving linearly forward], coming-of-age tale about a kid who goes through inordinately traumatic events. I’m hesitant to name the thing as of now, since, it’s highly likely that my opinion about the thing will change dramatically by the time I finish. Anyway, I’m not into the book, but I’m forcing myself to read it no matter. Also, I’m going to great lengths to not search for all the negative feedback about the thing or else I’d just be willingly participating and fueling my own confirmation bias. I need to make myself read this book that I don’t like without finding others who feel the same way. I need to develop and create my own opinions about the thing without looking to others for an answer about whether I’m “right” or “wrong” about thinking that the book is sort of shit, despite it’s very prestigious prize.
Obviously, many many people have read the thing, hence the very prestigious prize, but that fact, first and foremost, signifies to me that it’s an easy read, which in my mind is antithetical to good writing. Yes, I’m very pretentious, as a nobody; I know. Nevertheless, I’m doing it. I’m forcing myself to learn something about myself, which is the opposite, in my mind, of confirmation bias. If the “bias” is all about confirming the self by finding and agreeing with those who fall in line with whatever your beliefs are, doing things you don’t like or thinking about things you don’t agree with must be the opposing force.
Staying open-minded to the possibility that you are fat, that you are stupid, that you are wrong is the only way to accept that you are fat and need to eat less, that you are stupid and that you need to read more, and that you are wrong and need to park somewhere else lest you get a parking ticket every ephing time you park behind that bakery to pick up your doughnuts, etc., etc., is the only way to be better. And better-ness and positivity are not the same thing. Ah shit, another thing about which I must write. At a later time, please for fuck’s sake!
That’s all. Don’t be offended [ha!, yea right]. This is all about me and my own idiocy as a person succumb to the throws or throes? … throws of confirmation bias. I, sadly, suffer from this selfish, narrow-minded, mind-numbingly lazy condition. There’s no “but” here. It’s just unfortunately very true and very disappointing. I will soon finish this book about which I so ardently write without writing about it at all, and perhaps in the near future, will update the world about my grand discoveries. Don’t hold your breath, though.