Monday, May 09, 2011

Productive thinking: Mercier on how to avoid confirmation bias

Don't think alone; and do seek out people who disagree: (link)

"People mostly have a problem with the confirmation bias when they reason on their own, when no one is there to argue against their point of view. What has been observed is that often times, when people reason on their own, they’re unable to arrive at a good solution, at a good belief, or to make a good decision because they will only confirm their initial intuition.

On the other hand, when people are able to discuss their ideas with other people who disagree with them, then the confirmation biases of the different participants will balance each other out, and the group will be able to focus on the best solution. Thus, reasoning works much better in groups. When people reason on their own, it’s very likely that they are going to go down a wrong path. But when they’re actually able to reason together, they are much more likely to reach a correct solution."

1 comment:

Anna Haynes said...

Clarification, re "do seek out people who disagree" - seek them out, if they're acting in good faith and have a modicum of sensibility.
(Yes this is belaboring the obvious, but these days it's probably wise to do so, since it ain't obvious to all.)