Enlist yourself for the good stuff here
authored, with loads of love & thought, by Chetan Narang
Very recently, I heard a “fact” that whenever a buttered toast falls down on the floor, it always lands buttered-side first. Now before you go and waste a bucket full of perfectly good buttered toast, keep reading.
There really is no mystery here. This is not a fact, but a simple case of confirmation bias. Yes, you read that right. There is nothing but confirmation bias at play here.
Now what exactly is the confirmation bias? In simple words, it is the tendency of our minds to favour information that confirms our already existing ideas or opinions about something or someone. And there are three key ways in which this turns up. Let’s look at them briefly using the example of the falling toast:
What we remember
What we remember about something or someone is simply that – what we remember. It may not actually be the whole truth. Our memories are always coloured by our present day emotions and also the emotions we experienced while forming them.
So if for instance you actually let go of a buttered toast and it lands buttered-side first, you have to now clean up the floor and do so much more work than simply pick it up – which is why you might end up forming a much stronger memory for this case than when the toast lands the other way. And that confirms for you that the toast indeed always lands this way.
What we look for
If you want to get to the bottom of the mystery, you go on to the internet and search for answers. What you get actually would be guided by what you searched for.
If you search for an objective journal/video/podcast talking about the ins and outs of the mystery, you’ll most likely get to see a very different “truth” than if you read up a blog post from www.theyarecomingforyou.com.
If you search why right-leaning people are wrong, that’s what you read – why & how right-leaning people are wrong. And that confirms for you that right-leaning people are indeed wrong. The same goes for the other side of the coin too of course.
How we interpret
Even if you search for objective truths, the confirmation bias also seeps in through your interpretations of them. So, quite simply put, if your conclusions from information from all sources are always the same, you may want to look deeper into how to tackle the confirmation bias.
Speaking of tackling it, I made a simple and easy-to-absorb video on how we can identify and overcome confirmation bias in our everyday lives.
Check it out now or bookmark it to watch later.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am suddenly craving a well-buttered toast.
Until next time.