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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.

Have you ever had a conversation in which some old movie was mentioned, something like “The Golden Child” or maybe even something more obscure?

You laughed about it, quoted lines from it, wondered what happened to the actors you never saw again, and then you forgot about it. Until…

You are flipping channels one night and all of the sudden you see “The Golden Child” is playing. Weird. The next day you are reading a news story, and out of nowhere it mentions forgotten movies from the 1980s, and holy shit, three paragraphs about “The Golden Child.” You see a trailer that night at the theater for a new Eddie Murphy movie, and…

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