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  • Two guys are sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness arguing

  • about the existence of God. While they're old friends they have very different

  • ideas on God: one is a priest and the other is an atheist. The atheist says

  • "Look it's not like I haven't given God a chance, I've even tried the prayer thing.

  • It didn't work!" The priest asks with some incredulity: "Did you really pray? When did

  • this happen?" "Just last month" replies the atheist "I

  • got caught away from the camp and a terrible blizzard I was totally lost and

  • I couldn't see a thing it was 20 degrees below zero and so I prayed I fell to my

  • knees in the snow and cried out: Oh God if there is a god I'm lost in this

  • blizzard and I'm going to die if you don't help me!" the priest looks at the

  • atheist puzzled and says: "Well, then you must believe in God now, after all here

  • you are, alive!" The atheist rolls his eyes and replies: "No, no that's not how it

  • happened! A couple of Eskimos came wandering by and showed me the way back

  • to the camp". So, where do such different perspectives come from? Confirmation bias

  • is a tendency to look for, interpret and recall information in ways that affirm

  • our preconception. Whenever we encounter objective facts on an issue we look at

  • them through the lens of our own beliefs. As a result we see and overrate where

  • the to intercept. The bias is strongest for emotionally charged issues or when

  • we search for desired outcomes.

  • Wrapped inside popular narratives, cultural beliefs and family values a

  • confirmation bias often gets passed on for generations. The priest learned from

  • his ancestors that God is behind everything. The atheist was raised within

  • a family that believed only in scientific knowledge. When we are

  • confronted with unfamiliar or new situations a bias helps us to draw

  • fast conclusions. If every encounter with a stranger would require us to think of

  • all sorts of possible outcomes, we would not come to any conclusions. Economically

  • speaking it would be too costly. To survive in a dangerous world we learn to

  • operate like storytelling, pattern-seeking animals, each one of us

  • thinking that our story and our head is the right one. Today we can afford to

  • slow down and think more deeply about certain issues. When we do this we can

  • become aware of our own biases. We begin to realize that things are often more

  • complicated than we thought.

  • Psychologist Peter Cathcart Wason who coined the term confirmation bias left

  • us with this fun little hypothesis rule discovery task, let's see if you can do

  • it? What's the rule behind the sequence of numbers: 2 4 6 ? And what comes next?

  • Write the correct number and the rule we are looking for in the comments below!

  • Now, fast!

  • Psychologists and nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman said: "A reliable way to

  • make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition. Because familiarity

  • is not easily distinguished from truth.". Which means if there is time to reflect

  • slowing down is likely to be a good idea!

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Two guys are sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness arguing

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B1 atheist bias confirmation priest god rule

The Confirmation Bias

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/23
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