Embrace Your Bias!

Guess what? According to Wikipedia there are over 184 cognitive biases! What is a bias? It “refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion”. In other words your experiences and memories greatly affect your day to day thoughts. Seems intuitive and it is. Every single experience, especially those when you are young mold your biases. Some people have memory biases while others have confirmation biases. Whatever the reason for bias or the type of bias doesn’t matter here–because we are here to crush bias. Because bias is so prevalent we can only reduce its impacts on the decisions that people make. Ever heard of “fake news”? I covered this in a previous post, but “fake news”, misinformation, disinformation, and deception are all forms of bias IF they are unintentional. Let me say that again–if something is truly fake news, but the author did not intend for it to be then it is likely the result of bias by the author.

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For all you naysayers that believe that misinformation is conveniently created by politicians to avoid media scrutiny–false! Misinformation (a.k.a. Fake News) always existed, but was rarely measured and the ability to publish information and have large numbers of readers view it was never so easy as it is today. Until authors are all robots (careful, we may get there soon) we will continue to experience the impacts of bias. Bias lingers around our news and information like a bad perfume! Why can’t we train people so that they aren’t biased? Because authors of information are human and we are flawed. Many have heard the statistic regarding body language and communications–experts say that 65% of communication is non-verbal. The amazing thing about non-verbal communication is that it is often completely invisible to the person doing it. A similar effect exists with bias–not only is bias difficult to observe, but it is nearly invisible to the person doing it.

A study observed people with above average intelligence and gave the individuals what they believed to be accurate information on a stereotype. The people were told that the likelihood of a particular stereotype is very low, but because bias or associative thinking is so powerful the probability that the individuals selected the stereotype increased to 50%. To put this into perspective if you were told that 1 in 10 farmers wore cowboy hats (10%) and you had a bias towards farmers–the probability you would identify a person with a cowboy hat to be a farmer would be 50%. Seem far-fetched? There are multiple studies on bias that prove this psychological phenomenon.

In summary, no matter what one thinks or says everyone is biased in some way. TruthSetter helps to reduce bias for many types of information including news articles, blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets, website pages. Text or images can be posted to TruthSetter and fact-checked. TruthSetter uses algorithms that help to identify the appropriate number of votes that greatly reduce the impacts of bias. If you can’t beat the bias you might as well join it!

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