Searching for self-affirmation

Google and confirmation bias:   Massimo Pigliucci makes some excellent points in his blog post asking, “Is Google making us less rational?” While this explains why people often hold on to religious or political (or other) views even when there’s an abundance of evidence to the contrary, it’s worth noting that it probably also applies to us atheists as well.

Certainly there are some atheists who seem to go out of their way to seek out reinforcement for atheism, or examples of the sort of religious idiocy that MetaFilter often shorthands as “LOLXtians.” If you (consciously or unconsciously) surround yourself (online or in “RL”) with intelligent atheists and stupid believers (or intelligent believers and stupid non-believers), confirmation bias can be a bitch.

Of course, it’s not just Google. The Internet in general makes it easier for people to self-segregate into mutually reinforcing communities (although it also makes inevitable some contact with things that are way outside — sometimes way, way, way outside — your personal preferences).

I don’t know what the solution is, unless you’re so noble that you go out of your way to find stupid atheists and smart Christians. I suppose the important thing is just to remember that skepticism is important when considering your own views, just as much (maybe even more so) than when considering other views being presented to you.

(pic via a nice article from CXO)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. True! So very true! I jokingly refer to myself as a “nut” on my blog, and post a lot of “funny” stuff in addition to my rants and ravings, in the hope that people who read the serious stuff will be comfortable enough to get into a comment exchange with me about the issues involved. And yet very, very few do. 😐

    Reply

  2. Posted by Valarie on February 28, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Check out the “Pigeonhole THIS” post on the Parenting Beyond Belief blog.

    Reply

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