Reality Blind - Vol. 1

The internet makes bias even more prevalent because we can easily seek out “information” that confirms our preexisting beliefs. For example, an articulate blogger with no relevant background carries as much (or more) weight as an atmospheric scientist in the climate “debate.” In effect, we humans are information “cherry pickers,” because this gives us confiden ce and reduces internal dissonance. As you learned from the “modular minds” section, we do this automatically as a part of the process of shaping our own constantly revised storyline and beliefs to that of our chosen ingroup. An interesting psychological effect is that ALL new information one receives tends to harden existing opinions 55 . So unless you want to harden opinions in their current proportions, “mass education” on any well -known subject is counterproductive, even though this flies in the face of the rationale for nearly every public-policy initiative. The more intelligent a human is, the more effectively that intelligence is employed in rationalizing the existing in- group beliefs, because that’s what “feels right” to the gene agenda 56 . IQ is often used to defend one ’ s existing beliefs rather than in service of the truth. 57 A variation of confirmation bias is called motivated reasoning , whereby people develop elaborate rationalizations in order to justify holding beliefs which significant evidence has shown to be wrong. Under motivated reasoning, presenting facts not only doesn’t work in changing someone’s mind, but has the opposite effect. A person’s emotional need to maintain their pre-existing opinion causes all new information to strengthen the original opinion even more . If you intensely dislike Peter and see some nice newspaper story about Peter that should improve your view of him, but instead paradoxically this causes you to dislike him even more! And if most experts disagree with your pet theory, they must be involved in some sort of conspiracy. Some prominent examples in which people dig their neural heels in include: the moon landing was a hoax, 9/11 was an inside job, vaccines cause autism, AIDS is not caused by HIV and the 2020 election was stolen. You’ve probably encountered this phenomenon frequently with your friends and family (but never yourself ;-). TaaL: Personally, I don’t believe in UFOs. But part of sapience is letting go of evolved bias, which is difficult to do. One of the best ways is to be very wary of claims of certainty about complex matters, particularly when advanced by those who otherwise show no particular personal intelligence or analytic ability. Those who have great knowledge about the world tend to be very upfront about the level of uncertainty associated with their working


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