Confirmation Bias and Fake News

In the text book, confirmation bias is defined as a family of effects in which people seem more sensitive to evidence that confirms their beliefs than they are to evidence that challenges their beliefs.

In a shorter version, it can also be defined as the “tendency to seek out information that confirms what we already know or believe to be true”, according to an article written by David Braucher. In his article he talked about fake news and biases. Specifically about confirmation bias, he brought up a meme he came across with Trump saying if he were to run for president, he would do so as a republican, because republican voters are dumb and believe anything. This image was quoted to  from 1998. Braucher was quick to believe it, however, he admitted to overlooking the fact that the image from the meme was taken 10 years prior to the time of this quote. In addition he stated that “publishing such a statement would be obviously counterproductive for a Presidential bid”. The meme confirmed what he thought, and therefore he believed it.

In addition to talking about confirmation bias, he also brought up implicit bias. He defined it as “the idea that as humans we have a tendency to group people into categories”. He mentioned that he received the meme of Trump from a member of his political affiliation (liberal) so he trusted it; and that as a liberal he has an implicit bias against republicans.

Braucher then goes on to talk about the combination of confirmation bias and implicit bias:

“When implicit biases and confirmation biases work together, their potential to lead us astray increases exponentially. As our implicit bias leads us to trust and view more positively those of our own group, we become more insulated, only hearing from people of our own group. As those of our own group share our beliefs, they share “facts” that confirm our beliefs. It is a feedback loop, and we end up living in a bubble.”

I thought this was an interesting perspective, as I had never thought of the interaction of confirmation bias and implicit bias before. However, the most interesting take on this article was when Braucher brought up social media into the mix. The most well known example being of Facebook: when all your Facebook friends consist of people who identify in the same political affiliation as you, all you will see is news that supports your confirmation bias. No liberal is going to share an article that supports Trump.