The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.
The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.
By now you’ve likely heard of confirmation bias. As a citizen of the internet the influence of this cognitive tendency is constant, and its allure is pervasive.
In short, when you have a hunch that you might already understand something, but don’t know for sure, you tend to go searching for information that will confirm your suspicions.
When you find that inevitable confirmation, satisfied you were correct all along, you stop searching. In some circles, the mental signal to end exploration once you feel like your position has sufficient external support is referred to as the wonderfully wordy “makes sense stopping rule” which basically states that once you believe you’ve made sense of something, you go about your business satisfied that you need not continue your efforts. In other words, just feeling correct is enough to stop your pursuit of new knowledge. We basically had to invent science to stop ourselves from trying to solve problems by thinking in this way.
You could, instead, try and disconfirm your assumptions, to start your investigations by attempting to debunk your beliefs, but most of the time you don’t take this approach. That’s not your default method of exploring the natural world or defending your ideological stances.
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