Perhaps you’ve noticed, when it comes to judging new information objectively, people often interpret the same information in a wide array of variations. At times this seems like it can strengthen our collective approach to reasoning. At others, it seems to embolden vast divides in contentiously opposing views.
Most often we’re left wondering how we could have possibly drawn such different conclusions. There’s a mental phenomenon in the way our brains work that can limit our ability to see things for what they are. No matter who you are, or what level you’ve achieved in life, chances are you’ve suffered from the effects of Confirmation Bias at one time or another. Confirmation Bias is the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs. It’s a way of looking for familiarity in the world based on our current understanding of it. Part of this approach includes our brain’s way of seeking known-information that can be built upon for deeper understanding. The problem is that when this goes unchecked it becomes a bypass for critical thinking and deeper reasoning.
In this way, Confirmation Bias becomes the enemy of an open mind and hampers our ability to take on new and varied perspectives, which are critical to developmental growth and progress. While this phenomenon appears daunting, there are ways to work through it. According to Meteorologist and public speaker J. Marshall Shepard in his TED Talk, 3 Kinds of Biases That Shape Your World View, the following three-step process should get you there.
1. Take an Inventory of Your Own Biases
2. Evaluate Your Sources
3. Speak Out
While there are always multiple ways to look at an issue, only you add your perspective. Being objective while collecting information and then providing clarity to others, is not only a nicety, it’s a growing necessity in today’s day and age. Use your self-knowledge through Prism to be an advocate for the issues you care about while challenging your beliefs and checking your biases at the door.
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
– Robertson Davies
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