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The Information Drug July 31, 2012

Posted by Jason in Management.
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We are all prone to hear and retain information that supports our existing beliefs.  This phenomenon of “confirmation bias” is one of several innate mental quirks that cloud our thinking and cause us to act more irrationally than we would like to believe.

This recent article highlights not only the confirmation bias, but the active role that we play in selecting information the first place.  For example, if we face two opposing viewpoints about which we know nothing, the one supporting our preconceived beliefs is the one that attracts our attention and lodges in our memory.  This more insidious finding leads to the conclusion that even when approaching a problem, we are selecting information that will most likely support our position – even without knowing for sure beforehand.

Naturally, like all our mental faculties, there are certainly ranges of behavior that deny the possibility of a hard, fast rule.  Nonetheless, the fact that we are capable of tricking ourselves should give us pause when gathering data or seeking others’ opinions.  If anything, we must go out of our way to seek contrary opinions and give equal chance to data that may not necessarily support our case.

We have enough to worry about without our own brains working against us.

Scumbag Brain