For the next short while, postings on Wisdom for a Change will alternately examine:
- Ways in which the human desire to be among seemingly like-minded people serves as an inhibitor to change and even the objective consideration of new ideas or views, and
- New understandings that can keep us and people around us from getting in a rut, which one popular speaker defines as "a grave with the ends dug out"! (This phrase has been variously attributed to different sources. I have been unable to confirm the actual source.)
Recently I addressed the human tendency to seek sameness. This tendency is helpful and even Godly. Yet, this preference for feel social comfort can also be self-limiting; even, selfish.
We need to examine human phenomena that contribute to this human tendency that marginalizes and even blocks out what is perceived to be inconsistent with what is familiar and comfortable. Humans display a remarkable range of responses to resolve inconsistencies in their thinking.
One of these relevant responses is known as "Confirmation Bias", also known as "Myside Bias". Either term refers to the human tendency to prefer information that confirms one’s preconceptions and biases, independently of whether new, divergent information is true. in other words, often people would prefer to believe what they believe or do what they always do even when compelling evidence (e.g., common sense, detailed analysis, expert guidance, and even Scripture) irrefutably proves the status quo needs to change.
People manifest Confirmation Bias in any of three ways:
- They demonstrate selective collection of evidence or unwillingness to receive new inputs
- They interpret all evidence according to preconceptions, filtered to align with the familiar
- They practice selective recall, remembering what's comfortable and forgetting the rest.
Whatever the manifestation, whenever Confirmation Bias occurs it reinforces existing attitudes and values, even when attitudes and values are harmful, self-limiting, and even clearly unChristian.
Tomorrow, we'll examine Confirmation Bias further to consider how Myside Bias gets in the way of helpful dialog and exploration about needed change - even when change involves formation, transformation, growth, and compassion.
No one should exist - or be forced to exist - in a grave with the ends dug out!