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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Caution Re Search Engines

Although I've referred to confirmation bias a few times in my blog, ever since a good friend sent me the link below I've been re-considering how modern technology reinforces that bias. For any thinking person, this is surely a sobering wake-up call.


My first deep immersion in confirmation bias occurred in the early 90's while doing diversity training. Several years later I read Peter Senge's brilliant book "The Fifth Discipline" in preparation for delivering courses in leadership. According to Senge, uncovering our "mental models", is a critical element in building learning organizations. From the outset, his premise resonated with me probably because I recognized the way we construct our mental models is wholly consistent with the insidious phenomenon of confirmation bias. That is, we seek out (largely) data supporting our viewpoints and "filter" out (or give less credence to) data that refutes those viewpoints. And that subtle but unmistakable weeding out process helps us believe our mental models are the "truth". Sound familiar?

Based on that scary article above, I'm now committed to using search engines in a more discriminating fashion. After you read it, please tell me (and others) about your takeaways. I've never doubted I'm an unwilling victim of confirmation bias. But thanks to that good friend who thought to send me the article, perhaps I can mitigate the effects of confirmation bias just a little. This can only be a good thing for my mental models and, in turn, my development as a thinking person.


  1. Your confirmation of confirmation bias confirms my bias regarding your confirmation bias.

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