Friday, September 18, 2020

Origin of Term - Confirmation Bias

The term itself is believed to have been coined by English psychologist Peter Wason to describe the tendency of people to favor information that confirms or strengthens their beliefs or values and is difficult to dislodge once affirmed. Since then many studies have been done on the topic. Michael Shermer has been quoted as saying that smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. Wikipedia points out that “confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs even in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in political, organizational, financial, and scientific contexts. For example, confirmation bias produces systematic errors in scientific research based on inductive reasoning (the gradual accumulation of supportive evidence). Similarly, a police detective may identify a suspect early in an investigation, but then may only seek confirming rather than disconfirming evidence. Can confirmation bias be avoided or eliminated entirely? Probably not. However, individuals can learn to identify their biases and manage their confirmation bias—if they purpose to do so. 

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