In high school & college I was a competitive debater. I wasn’t naturally well-spoken and quick on my feet. I think almost entirely in pictures, so it was difficult for me to translate those images into coherent ideas that are easy to understand in words.
With that background, I absolutely love watching live debates; especially debates that matter.
Recently the two main party nominees squared off for the first presidential debate of the 2016
circus election cycle. At the end of the debate, there was a clear winner.
Who was it?
Turns out, it was the person you believed would win it before it ever began.
Like most interesting quirks of the mind, how things play out after an event are often more interesting than the event, itself. Nowhere is this easier to see than the fallout from the debate.
If you’ve talked with more than 10 people about the debate, you should have seen first hand how two people can go through the same experience, and come out with completely different beliefs about what happened.
As soon as the nominees wrapped up, you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hillary won the debate. The guy sitting next to you at the bar felt exactly the same way. . . about Trump.
And it’s interesting to note; he has the exact same level of certainty about Trump’s “undeniable” win, as you do Hillary.
How in the world can that be?
A little hiccup in reasoning called “belief bias.”
Belief bias is what happens when someone’s beliefs, personal values, prior knowledge/experience colors the reasoning process to be more accepting of invalid arguments or information.
Those beliefs act as a preventative filter for any kind of information that would disrupt the world view that’s working just fine, thank you. Why would I do anything different?
A completely rational person would be able to take in all points made, evaluate claims, and come to a conclusion based solely on that data.
But we’re not completely rational people. Our fuzzy logic & slippery pre-conscious brain processes get in the way.
We interpret experiences so they support what we believe already.
Show me one person who changed their mind after the debates. . .
Can’t do it?
You have the belief bias to thank!
(and be scared of.)