*People believe what they want to believe which is the essence of what’s known as confirmation bias. I was watching an episode of Air Disasters on the Smithsonian Channel in which the pilots of an aircraft entered the wrong heading number into the plane’s flight plan system that took them in the wrong direction.
When they realized they were lost, they relied upon a visual assessment of the terrain, and discovered what they thought to be a familiar landmark – it was not, but they believed it to be because they wanted it to be. They did not check to verify, nor did they seek reliable third-party intervention, and ultimately crashed.
After watching the program, I turned to the news just as they were reporting the story of the Arizona GOP vote audit, then it clicked – these people are not trying to find if whether or not the voting machines were working properly, they are still looking for fraudulent activity promulgated by the “Big Lie” created by the Trump administration.
They are still trying to find something that is simply not there!! They still believe the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen.” They are still calling Donald Trump “our president” as if he’s achieved sainthood. Some are even saying he’s the best president we’ve had – in their eyes – within the last 100 years. Short of the return of Jesus Christ, there are no perfect administrations, but we use our best judgement and work with what we have to work with. Those who are biased cannot and will not see it!
An article by Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. in Psychology Today states: “Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or 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 or 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.”
While critiquing President Biden’s Joint Session Address to Congress, a very influential international talk show host commented that all those in the chamber who were wearing masks were making a political statement. I wrote to him stating it was not a political statement, but rather leading by example – something real leaders do during a pandemic; and something the former administration failed to do. That same person, admittedly, stated that some of his own family members had been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. He also irresponsibly stated as if fact that the Biden administration is “communist.” This smacks of “Hollywood’s ‘Red’ Scare” of the 1940’s and ‘50’s. America is a democracy with checks and balances, and will be sustained if and only if all of our elected officials will work together as President Biden so emphatically stated during his address.
Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing that should be combated with fact and truth on every front especially when lives are at stake as well as the foundation of our democracy.
Heshmat further stated: “Self-deception can be like a drug, numbing you from harsh reality or turning a blind eye to the tough matter of gathering evidence and thinking… people are prone to believe what they want to believe. Seeking to confirm our beliefs comes naturally, while it feels strong and counterintuitive to look for evidence that contradicts our beliefs. This explains why opinions survive and spread.”
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Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon); two insightful books that speak to our moral conscience in times like these. Email: [email protected]