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Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Confirmation Bias

What is the confimation bias and why is it important to the future of our world? According to Science Daily, ¨Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or under weigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.” 

When Donald Trump says he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and people would still support him, he is probably correct. They would say the guy shouldn't have stood in front of the bullet, or he was protecting his family, regardless of the circumstances. This is the result of the confirmation bias. His supporters want to believe him no matter how outrageous his statements.

The significant word in the definition is "ignore". "and ignore or under weigh evidence". His supporters would ignore any thought that he was simply a killer in this scenario. Expand the word to become "ignorant" and that is truly what his supporters would be. That is why his supporters believe lie after lie no matter how extreme.

What implications does this have on education? The frontal lobe of the brain believes everything it hears for a split second. Then it looks at past experiences and other arguments to determine the facts. When the person is surrounded by those who are also victims of the confirmation bias, their irrational thoughts will be vindicated. However, if children are taught to use critical thinking, they will then dig deeper to search for true solutions to a problem.

The greatest challenge of education in this decade is to prepare children to rise above the "confirmation bias" and embrace critical thinking. In education, we do the opposite. Students must regurgitate what the teacher or text book tells them thus diminishing the need for critical thinking.

Whether it be climate change deniers, or those who believe President Obama is a Muslim from Africa, or fake news from Russia, the ability to think critically would make these scams obsolete. Education can make a difference  and must teach students to think while it is still legal.

Stay tuned for my next book "Protecting Students from Monsters, Ogres and other Politicians" that addresses this subject. Visit my wholechildreform website  for more info.

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