Posts Tagged ‘confirmation bias’

ThickCulture has found an interesting study that I really need to print out and read in detail at some point.  To quote the short abstract:

Reasoning is generally seen as a mean to improve knowledge and make better decisions. Much evidence, however, shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests rethinking the function of reasoning. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given human exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology or reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis.

If you read the longer abstract, you’ll see the following paragraph:

Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative… Skilled arguers are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views.  This explains the notorious confirmation bias.

So what?

Well, the confirmation bias was the thing that started to bother me as a teenager.  I discovered that I could convince myself of almost anything if I argued about it.  The more I argued the more I believed it.  But I didn’t like the fact that something irrational was deciding my opinions for me so I started to track what I was thinking and rebel against it.


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