Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Counteracting Biases

While catching up on Overcoming Bias posts, I've been trying to figure out the best way to teach methods of counteracting biases. If I had to boil it down into one or two pieces of practical advice for students, what would I recommend?

One big point is to own our fallibility. Awareness of our limits and biases is a huge step in the right direction. Here are two other big, simple points I think are important:
  1. Actively seek out sources that you disagree with. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people and consume like-minded media. When we do check out our opponents, it tends to be the obviously fallacious straw men rather than sophisticated sources that could legitimately challenge our beliefs.
  2. Focus on the best points in the arguments against what you believe. Our opponents' good points are worth more attention than their obviously bad points. Yet we sometimes naturally focus on their mistakes rather than the reasons that hurt our case the most.
Point #1 in particular is tough for me: as you can see by my feed, I mostly read stuff from like-minded people: philosophers, psychologists, and economists working on decision making, heuristics, and biases. To this extent, I'm probably more likely to think that these issues are more important than they really are. What contrarian sources can I check to counteract this?

No comments:

Post a Comment