Exploratory Essay revision
Confirmation bias, also known as “My-side” bias, is a force that affects every one. It does not matter what the person’s ethnicity, beliefs, or gender is; confirmation bias will not discriminate. This bias actually spawns from ones ideology in life. Confirmation bias can be a problem for people due to its power to cloud our judgment in situation and cause us to make mistakes.
My-side bias is a natural occurring phenomenon in which we cannot stop or avoid. My-side bias is the tendency for a person to support information that agrees with his/her position and disregard information that contrast with their ideas (Klein “I’m wrong and so are you”). For example, if you were a republican you would more likely agree with news that supports conservative ideology than information regarding liberals. We cannot avoid this bias because it comes from our beliefs and ideology. The most we can do is to minimize its effects.
David Foster Wallace’s article Consider the Lobster is a great example of how to minimize the overall effects of my-side bias. In his article, Wallace uses a writing method that reveal each side of the argument in a single issue. He displays the views of different groups on the issue of cooking lobster from the viewpoints of PETA and Food Fanatics. Wallace throws information at the reader such as saying cooking lobsters is unethical because they can feel pain and counters that argument that pain is a subjective mental experience and we do not know if they feel pain at all (Wallace “Consider the Lobster” 416). By this method, Wallace reduces the impact of the bias and allows the reader to “consider” the issue.
An example of how strong confirmation bias can influence ones work is shown in the Daniel Klein’s study. Klein, a libertarian and an economist, utilized a survey designed specifically biased towards leftist views to “test” the people’s understanding of economic ideas. The survey was inaccurate due to its ability only to challenge leftist ideas. Unfortunately, Klein allowed his conservative beliefs to cloud his judgment and the study was published without check. Klein then followed up with a second survey that challenged conservative ideas and was dumbfounded that his results were flipped. He published a follow-up article “ I was wrong and so were you”, in which he openly confessed his bias by stating “ I’m a libertarian and I found it easy to believe that people on the left had an especially bad grasp on economics”. Unlike Wallace, Klein only expressed his views and had no “checks” on his own bias causing his study to be filled with error.
Confirmation/ My-side bias is a vice for many because of the large influence it can hold over oneself. It can damage the reliability of works completely based on the author’s ideology such as in Klein’s case. However, the effects of the bias can be minimalized if the author or creator of the work allows other arguments to counteract the biased ideology. In conclusion, my-side bias can only be a major problem if one allows it to go unchecked or unopposed.