Eyeballs for Sale!


As a political pundit, or someone that spends an exorbitant amount of time researching political news and “facts”, are you becoming more educated on the subject – or developing a confirmation bias?

Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you believed while ignoring information, which challenged your preconceived notions.

Confirmation bias is a filter through which you see a reality that matches your expectations. (You see what you want to see) It causes you to think selectively, but the real trouble begins when confirmation bias distorts your active pursuit of facts. Will you refuse to read a book or news article if you know it is written by a known member of the opposing political ideology or party? Are the only books you read, the ones in which you know they will write or say whatever it is that you need to hear?

You seek out safe havens for your ideology – friends and coworkers of like mind and attitude, media outlets guaranteed to say whatever you need them to say. Not associating with certain people at work because you know they hold different political views than yourself prevents you from constantly validating what you want to believe. They may say things that are contradictory to how you believe, and you don’t like it. Most times, your opinions or beliefs are so intertwined with your self-image that you cant pull them away without damaging your self-perception, and this causes you to avoid situations that may cause harm to those beliefs.

Over time, by never seeking the opposite view, while perusing online news subscriptions, magazines, stacks of books and hours of television, you can become so confident in your world-view no one could change your mind.

Remember, there’s always someone out there willing to sell eyeballs to advertisers by offering a guaranteed audience of people looking to validate their opinions or conclusions. Ask yourself if you are in that audience. In science, you move closer to the truth by seeking evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the same method should inform your opinions as well.

If your goal is to soothe your inner ego with information that you already know – keep researching your subjects in the same mannerisms that you presently use. If you want true education and perspective, it’s time to start researching the other side of the object, while making possible that it could be correct.

All of the above provides ample reason as to why social media like Facebook or Twitter will forever be a ruse in political objectivity. When people can “un-friend or block” a person with a differing viewpoint and often do so – that person is seeking validation, not knowledge. These social media types need confirmation and stimulation from their “friends and followers” that they are the enlightened ones, and have the most correct hypothesis for their punditry. Until you are willing to argue either side in a debate and prepared to negotiate a win-win, you are living with confirmation bias and seeking validity from others.

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