Confirmation Bias And Faith

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#1
Anyone who believes anything about anything at all, that on some level they wish to believe, needs to consider the question of confirmation bias in their thinking.

"Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.

Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions."

I certainly agree that we should be intellectually honest with our faith. I also believe that if a faith is true, it will stand questions and be stronger for them.

The accusation of confirmation bias is, of course, a criticism fired at believers in God from those who don't... However, for those who do not wish to believe, their confirmation bias will be in the direction of materialism and moral relativism.

I'm only bringing this up as I think it is good intellectual practice the know what you are putting your faith in, and why you are doing so...
 





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#2
I liked C.S. Lewis's take on confirmation bias when recounting the story of his reluctant journey to faith...

"You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England"

(Surprised By Joy, ch. 14, p. 266).
 





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#3
That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me
The fear was already decided upon, which means his mind was already made up. ;) Confirmation bias.

We often suppress our fears by objectifying and externalizing them in this way.. assuming we are turning toward fear when we are really avoiding it by turning away.
 





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#4
Not wishing to be glib but there is a principle here:-

View attachment 24665
You've brought up this meme and topic a few times. I thought to reply in the appropriate thread.

I agree there is always the "danger" of deceiving ourselves by closing the doors on a broad spectrum of viewpoints or information. A person can become a victim of believing lies, trapped and unwilling to listen outside the echo chamber of opinions they're comfortable with.

I think just as important in service of the truth is to know the background of the source dispensing material. For example we can't expect to get accurate, non-biased interpretation of environmental reports about fracking from a news outlet that own the oil companies in question. It's not difficult to research someone's associations, linkedin profile, profit statements, etc. to get a handle on who's behind a statement or even the way it's presented.

Ultimately I reject that confirmation bias rules over our God-given ability to reason. Humans have the faculties of logic and perception of discernible facts. I know many people willing to approach topics in search of the truth, even if the ideas go against their preconceived beliefs. Mature, intelligent people can easily take in information from any source and offer back sensible criticism. If confirmation bias was a dominant trait there'd be no room for the growth and change we each experience.
 





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#5
You've brought up this meme and topic a few times. I thought to reply in the appropriate thread.

I agree there is always the "danger" of deceiving ourselves by closing the doors on a broad spectrum of viewpoints or information. A person can become a victim of believing lies, trapped and unwilling to listen outside the echo chamber of opinions they're comfortable with.

I think just as important in service of the truth is to know the background of the source dispensing material. For example we can't expect to get accurate, non-biased interpretation of environmental reports about fracking from a news outlet that own the oil companies in question. It's not difficult to research someone's associations, linkedin profile, profit statements, etc. to get a handle on who's behind a statement or even the way it's presented.

Ultimately I reject that confirmation bias rules over our God-given ability to reason. Humans have the faculties of logic and perception of discernible facts. I know many people willing to approach topics in search of the truth, even if the ideas go against their preconceived beliefs. Mature, intelligent people can easily take in information from any source and offer back sensible criticism. If confirmation bias was a dominant trait there'd be no room for the growth and change we each experience.
I quite agree - only we ourselves can truly say where confirmation bias ends and research begins. Like the person at the gym who cheats when the instructor isn’t watching, when it comes to confirmation bias, when we cheat, we only cheat ourselves.