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  • Rishika Didwania

The Echo Chambers of Misinformation

The root of all misconceptions, the confirmation bias refers to our tendency to interpret new information in a way that aligns with our current theories and beliefs. Essentially, we filter out any disconfirming evidence or new information that refutes our established views. This is a dangerous practice.

‘Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.’ However, we do just that. 

The world makes it so that we are forced to establish beliefs about it, about our lives, our careers, and more. We deal mostly with assumptions, and the more vague or ill-defined these are, the stronger the confirmation bias. Whether you go through life believing that 'people are inherently good' or 'people are inherently bad,' you will find ample proof to support your stance, because you are looking for the proof. You will subconsciously ignore what contradicts it because you want to be proven right, you want your beliefs to be supported. Both, the philanthropists and the misanthropes, simply shift their attention to the do-gooders and dictators who uphold their beliefs.

Self-help and get-rich-quick books further underscore narrow-minded storytelling. Their clever authors gather heaps of evidence to amplify even the most banal theories, like 'good things come to those who wait’ or 'meditation is the key to happiness.' These books exclusively showcase individuals who have succeeded with these theories, creating an illusion that this group represents the entire audience. They neglect those leading content lives without meditation, those who, despite meditating, still feel unhappy, or those who took initiative instead of patiently waiting for their workload to handle itself.

The Internet is one of the main reasons people fall prey to the confirmation bias. We peruse news websites and blogs to stay updated, overlooking that our favoured pages reflect our current beliefs. Moreover, many sites customize content to personal interests and browsing history, causing new and divergent opinions to vanish from the radar altogether. We inevitably end up in echo chambers of like-minded people, strengthening our values and succumbing to the confirmation bias.

To fight against the confirmation bias, write down what you believe in—your views on life, how you handle money, your approach to marriage, health choices, and career plans and set out to find disconfirming evidence. Letting go of the beliefs that have stuck with you for years is challenging, but vital. It is of the utmost importance that we start functioning according to what is true, not just what we perceive to be, so we can make smarter choices and effective changes.

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