Monday, January 9, 2012

Information Highway - a single lane country road

"...I will leave you to consider what less socially acceptable or even criminal deviancies that can be re-enforced..."

Counterintuitive - not sure why I enjoy any opportunity to dig into life’s situations that seem to defy logic.  If you have had opportunity to brows my other articles in my blog you may note that there is an underlining theme of facing reality versus perception.

If one were to reflect on life before access to the vastness of the World Wide Web, we were influenced and developed our beliefs and were influenced by our social and family circles, and the more conservative television entertainment and news reporting. It would seem logical that in the “olden days” with such narrow influence of thoughts, we might find ourselves narrow minded, and to the extreme, radical in beliefs.

But, with the expanse of the Information Highway (there is an antiquated phrase)... all of these narrow minded, bias beliefs are gone right? A few Google searches and you are instantly educated on all sides of an area of interest. So we are all now more accepting and tolerant as we can easily see the other side of any story.  The high speed access to millions of opinions means we no long are handcuffed to local interest groups, and community radicals. We are all better people, as we can sit comfortable and read, watch, and listen to a broad diversity of logic and understanding.


There is a nifty little concept that has long existed, that is only exacerbated by the presence of the web. Confirmation Bias. This condition, in the simplest of terms, refers to the natural tendency of people to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, making them stronger, while at the same time, minimizing or discarding facts that are counter to their beliefs. This understanding of what makes us tick, has been around as long as we have.. but pre internet, finding resources to deepen our beliefs was more difficult so the bias was less prevalent.  I would speculate that the bias was more along the lines of religion, ethnicity, and male female equality. I expect these Biases are easily found and nourished within specific communities and relatively small geographies.

Now we open the flood gates of very specific bias or radical behaviour, if one were to Google the harmless issue “Anti-Fracking” in .34 seconds about 3,550,000 results resulting sites are returned for your perusal. This instant confirmation that in such numbers in the world, appears to validate ones belief, and only makes the belief much more entrenched. I will leave you to consider what less socially acceptable or even criminal deviancies that can be re-enforced in a person with these tendencies. Years ago, deviant behaviour and acceptance was less readily available, confirmation that these might be limited to a handful of people. Now, it would appear, there are thousands, even millions that support these behaviours... therefore.. it must be ok, and extremists continue to grow more extreme with this Confirmation Bias.

It seems logical to think that now we have so much information literally at our fingertips, we are all growing smarter and more acceptant and less bias to others opinions, whereas the reality, all of this information is only making us all that much more narrow minded... counterintuitive I say! 

No comments:

Post a Comment