The Serious Dangers of Confirmation Bias
The serious dangers of what, now? Confirmation bias? You may not be familiar with the term, but once explained, you may recognize its reality and how it may have affected your life.
Confirmation bias is defined as “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” In other words, it’s reading into things or twisting words and evidence to support your presuppositions.
Have you ever done this? Have you ever accepted something as true based on what you want to be true rather than what the evidence of everything around you screams to be true? Do you call the Earth flat based on some poor science from a Youtube video despite the centuries of scientific proof stating otherwise? If you do believe that, by the way, please stick around. We love you. You are our neighbor and neighbors aren’t defined by what we believe, we are defined by God.
However, if you can think of any moment you’ve ever chosen to believe something simply because you want to or because you can manipulate some facts or evidence to support your position, you’ve been guilty of confirmation bias.
What is the problem with confirmation bias?
Confirmation bias inhibits your ability to discover truth and live a life that is truly free. Unfortunately, many Christians are guilty of confirmation bias. And, we are the ones who are supposed to be the most free of all!
So, does this mean that your faith is confirmation bias and that it’s garbage because it’s unverifiable? No! What it does mean is that what you decide to be true cannot be truth simply because you want it to be. There is a difference between living in the mystery of the unverifiable and spitting in the face of what is known to be true.
You see, the danger of confirmation bias is that it causes us to come up with excuses to not love our neighbors. We don’t have to love our neighbor because we can come up with reasons why they may be a threat to us. We don’t have to explore the mystery of creation and engage with a living and moving God because we would rather choose evidence that supports dead and distant beliefs.
Confirmation bias encourages us to become sheltered and support ourselves in our own little kingdoms and worlds, while withholding the true love and mystery and pursuit of God from others, and ultimately, ourselves.
If you find yourself saying no to something despite the overwhelming evidence that says yes, it’s okay. But, you have to challenge yourself. It can be scary to step into a new idea that completely reshapes or challenges your worldview. But, this is a place where God can meet you. In the unknown.