Destination: Confirmation Bias

Today’s topic: Confirmation bias.

Drew and I have moved back to Ontario and are temporarily living with family while we look for a new apartment. One relative is well-versed in common things that could kill you, from e-coli on produce to traffic accidents, skin cancer to home burglaries.

There are several news programs and talk shows this individual watches religiously that discuss ordinary people who are harmed or killed in unusual ways. This seems to have created a feedback loop in which the world appears more dangerous with each special report on the hidden dangers of [insert food, product, species, activity or habit here.]

This isn’t something only this one relative does, of course. I’ve walked into more than one situation assuming the best (or worst) and basically ended up with what I expected. If only we could be divided into two or more consciousnesses. How fascinating would it be to see all of the possible outcomes of one event or decision based on what each person involved thought might happen?!

I’m slowly learning that while we can influence some of the things that happen to us no one can control everything. Trying to do so actually seems to make things worse than going with the flow and worrying less.


Here are some of the questions that have been rolling around in my head: what came first, the sensationalistic programs or the anxiety about those things we cannot control? Is worrying about these things more or less common in stable countries with good safety nets?

What do you think?



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3 Responses to Destination: Confirmation Bias

  1. teresa

    The comic was great. I tend to lean toward anxiety. I’ve had tolearn to control what my mind comes in contact with whether it’s radio, newspaper, books, tv. I have a MIL who is a worrier. She watches the news every day and if there is any negative report coming out of Ohio, whether it’s weather related or anything else, she calls and is slightly desperate to know we aren’t effected by it. Me? I’d rather live with my head in the sand and whatever comes my way deal with it when it gets here. I don’t want to know that the world is coming to an end ahead of time….(you know it’s going to be Oct. 21 dontcha?) LOL
    This is one reason I refuse to watch the Dr. Oz show!

  2. People have worried about that which we can’t control since the beginning of time.  I bet prehistoric “cavemen” were a lot more anxiety-driven than we are in modern society.

    That said, modern society embraces sensationalism because a) it drives ratings; b) it cedes more power to the oligarchs; and c) it generates tremendous profits for the few.

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