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The Superficial Social Network

Obama Inherited Mess

I saw this cute little meme on Facebook the other day. Every time I see something like this I’m reminded that we need to avoid superficial political affiliations. When we see logic like this we can be sure that the confirmation bias is hard at work. People have a gut reaction to the political message and either sneer or press the “Like” button. Luckily there were some intelligent comments under the picture. A few people were having a meaningful conversation about the nuances of fiscal policy, the influence of the executive branch on the economy, and the real causes of the economic recession.

So, I encourage you to have thoughtful, meaningful interactions on online social networks like Facebook and Google+. It can be difficult to elevate the conversation in a format like this, but it can be done!

A wonderful exposition of the confirmation bias. “You want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information which confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.”

Indeed! Seek and ye shall find evidence for your preconceived notions, unless you understand and actively fight the confirmation bias in your own mind. The first step toward fighting back is realizing that it’s not your fault. The confirmation bias is wiring built into your unconscious mind, but your conscious mind, now made aware of this normally subconscious flaw, needs to fight back!

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

By now you’ve likely heard of confirmation bias. As a citizen of the internet the influence of this cognitive tendency is constant, and its allure is pervasive.

In short, when you have a hunch that you might already understand something, but don’t know for sure, you tend to go searching for information that will confirm your suspicions.

When you find that inevitable confirmation, satisfied you were correct all along, you stop searching. In some circles, the mental signal to end exploration once you feel like your position has sufficient external support is referred to as the wonderfully wordy “makes sense stopping rule” which basically states that once you believe you’ve…

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