Belief Persistence (or Confirmation Bias?)

I had been redeveloping my blog in the summer of 2012 with the help of my friend Dave. He died suddenly in July and my immediate reaction had been, “I’ve just lost my closest friend” to which my wife immediately added, “that you’ve never met”. I subsequently realised that the last email from Dave had been written during the morning of the day he died. He was commenting on “Belief Persistence” – a psychology term that describes how humans will cling tighter to a belief when presented with evidence to the contrary. He went on to say:
However, the problem that exists is that two sides – the historical interpretation and the critical examinationwallow in belief persistence. Each side has decided its viewpoint, and any evidence to the contrary only drives each side into a more fierce defense of its belief. Surely you recognize how this influences people who read your own writings – question a belief and people will defend it to the extremes of ignorance, never to be persuaded. That lies behind much of what I have encouraged you in – write what you write and let it stand (this is your “undefended faith”); you will never really be able to influence belief persistence. The only and ultimate encouragement is that some will see, some will understand, and some will be encouraged to delve deeper, and that is all anyone who writes can ever hope to accomplish.
Well, how’s that for conversation? I haven’t spouted off like that for awhile. You always have a way of drawing me out, of encouraging me to formulate in words, ideas that float around in my head.
Thank you for that.

He ended with I’ll write again soon.

Other people refer to Confirmation Bias:
the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories, or
the tendency to search for, interpret or recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses.

There is also the Herd Instinct:
If we watch ourselves honestly we often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s