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Confirmation Bias

May 17, 2017

I have been picking up on this phenomenon a lot lately, both in my own views and in the views of others, particularly as portrayed online and on the news channels. When you have an attachment, or obsession, with a particular narrative, you tend to see all events that happen as proof, further evidence of this narrative, and you quietly ignore counter evidence.

It came to my mind, watching the UK news channels today, who are committed to an anti-trump narrative in regards to their obsession with finding Russia connections. They start from this need to find connections with Russia, and from there, absolutely every event that happens becomes only of any interest to them in so far as it is related to this. They don’t stop to think that maybe some political connections with Russia are inevitable as a part of diplomacy. No! It must all be some underhand conspiracy. As this is the narrative they have set out with, and so it is the only thing of interest to them.

So even when, today, Putin says he will himself release information on Trumps meeting records. This somehow, based on their confirmation bias, feeds in to their conspiracy of an underhand connection between Trump and Putin. So if information disproving a conspiracy is itself part of the conspiracy, then anything and everything is part of the conspiracy, and the whole notion of evidence has gone out the window, and it has become a case of a pure obsessive and blind attachment to a narrative that has its own momentum and beliefs, that have no interest in reality anymore.

In past months I have noticed some similar confirmation bias in myself regarding negative interpretations of immigrants, for I was only seeing, only interested, in the stories that fed into my narrative I was then attached to, of them as coming over to do bad things. I have overcome this to a large extent now, and see that the reality is much more complicated, though I do still place myself on the political right, partly based on my values as being quite traditionally minded and conservative, but more mainly based on the political left having failed this country and its people over the past 20 years from my perspective, for the sake of delusional and impractical “progressive” ideologies.

It is interesting to see in the coming UK general election how many people will actually be open to a change in who they will vote for, as I feel that most people are already fully armed with their own narratives and confirmation bias, and will simply interpret everything in line with this, regardless how politicians try to sway them over the coming weeks, and regardless how the media tries to enforce its own narrative and confirmation bias upon them. I find myself in a position where I will likely vote for the conservatives, even though my particular area is a safe conservative seat anyway. But it will be more as a criticism of the current left parties than a positive attachment to the conservatives.

I have seen the left already getting to work trying to control narratives on social media, with fake moralising and virtue signalling. On the TV media I do not see such a bias, to be fair on this issue, if anything, for some reason there is a conservative bias on there. Maybe based purely on the polls, they feel compelled to speak in line with them. But still, even without much bias there, I find little convincing coming from politicians on the left. It seems the usual case of wanting to appear to help everyone basically, but we know this is simply unrealistic. Also, it is the old appeal to more public spending, the usual fallacy of thinking pumping money into something will magically make it better, regardless of all other factors that motivate a nation, such as beliefs, values, ideas, hopes and prospects.

I just do not buy that they will be able to fund it all, and I do not buy that they even want, or have the motivation to do these things once in power, they are just saying them as they think its what people want to hear. The renationalisation idea talked about today by Labour and Corbyn, holds some interest to me, I may look into this more. But for the most part the fact that it comes with vague notions such as “fair” immigration, where this could mean letting in what? Millions and millions of refugees/economic migrants. What about fair immigration for the current British people, and for current British values? This does not seem to come into consideration for progressive ideologues.

In summary, I don’t think they are being assertive enough about where they stand, they are just trying to shadow public feeling. Asserting not their own values with integrity, but what they think ought to be good values in a vague, slightly superficial way, that will most likely not be backed up with action once in power. Maybe this is all just my own confirmation bias. I am sure it largely is, but I feel I am making some genuine attempts to consider what is best for Britain for the coming years, not just what fits in line with my personal ideological beliefs.

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