Monday, April 30, 2012

Cognitive Bias: Confirmation Bias

Today's Dilbert is a humorous look at confirmation bias:

Boss: I read a book about how to be a great leader, and realized I don't do any of those things.
Boss: I am surprised that a book with so many errors could get published.
Boss: It must have been written by a disgruntled underling
Wally: Do those exist?
The boss comes in with a preconceived notion that he's a great leader. When he reads a book about leadership that he doesn't agree with, his confirmation bias lead him to conclude that the book must be wrong instead of himself.

Then he immediately reasons that it must be written by someone opposed to him, such as "disgruntled underling".

Then someone immediately agrees with the boss, "yeah, you must be right".

Sounds like a lot of MLMers I've observed.

When I noted the negative aspects of whatever MLM they are in, about how it heavily resembles a scam, so on and so forth, instead of analyzing my evidence and proving me wrong, the defenders do exactly what the "pointy-haired boss" did... they are automatically right and everybody who criticizes this MLM (if it is indeed one) must be wrong, and the critic must be enemy of this business.

Then someone chimes in "Yeah, critic must be wrong" without proving anything either.

Let me show you an example  (slightly edited for formatting, not content) written by "Andrew", responding to one of my critiques:
Are you for real ? What the heck has yuwie got to do with wazzub ?
I'll tell you "absolutely nothing" not anything like Wazzub..
You seem to be enjoying the scaremongering end of it all your so called factual info ended with i dunno ? your conclusions ended with question marks ? there was nothing to be gained from reading your report,nothing but a could be,might be and i dunno
What a lot of twaddle i believe you only did this to get hits to your
If any of your gullible readers believe anything you say then they are just as foolish as are so funny i will ber laughing for a longtime after reading your rediculous are so unprofessional..good luck and no im not a member or owner or part of wazzub ..thought id add that before your paranoia set in
Note the exact same pattern:

I don't agree with the article
The article must be wrong.
The article must be written by someone with selfish reasons to hate X

I don't agree with the book.
The book must be wrong.
The book must be written by someone with selfish reasons to hate boss (i.e. disgruntled underling).

For your information, Wazzub claims to be a "profit sharing phenomenon" (later, "success sharing phenomenon") that claims to share 50% of its profits with members, and members get a bigger share if they recruit more people to raise their MoneyFactor. Yuwie is a Myspace clone (that's how old it is... before Facebook!) that charged monthly fee, but the more people you convince to join, the bigger profit share you get. So there definitely are similarities.

Yet "Andrew" can't see the similarities, or apparently cared. In his mind, ANY comparison I raised must be wrong, and because he's right, and he doesn't know why, he invents a reason that makes sense to him, but he had absolutely no evidence to support such a reason.

Just like the pointy-haired boss. And just as ridiculous.

Here is another example, except this guy is reacting to a review about ZeekRewards.

Joe wrote: Kschang, your investigation is full of flaws, holes, and basically a joke. You can put any spin on anything to look good or bad, obviously in your case you need to create a negative spin to draw in the crowds of people to create traffic for you or to compensate for whatever else you really are a joke as i notice you are on several boards claiming everything out there is a pyramid, change the channel and the model you have created to something more productive
Instead of pointing out the flaws and holes, Joe basically said "I don't agree with you. You are a joke. You think everything is pyramid scheme", and proceed to make various unsupported assertions without proving his own point.

Instead of making his point with logic, Joe instead committed several ad hominem attacks.


Beware of your own confirmation bias in all aspects of your lives.

[ Read more about Confirmation Bias, why it may have a genetic cause, and how it pervades out lives ]

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