Flipping the 4 Card

Number 4

I have been thinking about my previous post.

I don’t like the fact that I fell into the trap of confirmation bias.  What was my thought process when I was trying to come up with what two cards I should flip over?  “Oh.  If I just flip over that 4 card and there is a vowel, then everything is all right.”  What other situations come up in my life where I look to flip the four card?

Another thing is that I feel like I was tricked.  What if along with saying that cards with vowels have even numbers on the other side, the problem also said that odd numbered cards can not have vowels on the other side.  That would pretty much give away the answer, but the absence of that statement is an example of how a situation can be set up in a way that does not necessarily give you all the information that could be useful.  What other situations come up in my life where I just take the information given to me?

When I read about confirmation bias, it is usually associated with people talking to psychics or people seeing Jesus on a piece of toast.  And that is one of my biggest problems with the topics that skeptics bring up when trying to promote rationality.  I have mentioned this a few times before.  Obviously, confirmation bias does not just come up with paranormal activity.  So, when do I fall prey to it in my everyday life?

I have noticed that I try to solve arguments quite often.  When people are arguing at work, I try to step in and find common ground between them.  I try to remain unbiased.  I try to reach a conclusion that everyone can agree to.  My focus is less on what is right and more on reaching an agreement.  When I am negotiating, the things that work is my four card.

As for times when I just accept information as it is given to me, I almost always give people the benefit of the doubt.  About the only time that I don’t is when I am interacting with people representing businesses.  I put up a wall when someone is trying to sell me something.

But when friends, family or just acquaintances tell me something, I just assume that they are not trying to hide anything.  I assume that they are being objective and fair.  Usually this assumption only lasts while I am talking to them face to face.  After I take a moment, I reevaluate what they said and become more skeptical.  But face to face, I feel like everyone tells me everything I need to know.

So, I am going to try to remind myself to think about the four-card task the next time I try to resolve an argument or when I listen to someone explaining something to me.  And during those times I am going to ask myself if I am just looking for things that fit or if I am taking things at face value.

Photo courtesy of Tiberiu Ana

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