Are you sure?

For most of us, our brains do an excellent job of shaping a somewhat consistent view of the world from the constant flood of sensory data. We seldom scrutinize this extremely creative process of “world creation” and instead take it for granted. How can be we be certain of what we know and believe?

The problem is that the brain can be a bit too creative at times. It can fabricate seemingly real memories and often emphasizes some aspects of experience while deemphasizing others to serve its (our) particular purposes. I recently saw a paper describing information processing biases in humans. It has some great information about many of the possible ways the brain puts a spin on the information it receives. Assuming there is some value in objectivity, I again wonder how can we know when we’ve biased our view of the world. One suggestion in the paper is a yearly review of potential biases. The challenge would be in identifying the biases for review. To us, the bias looks like reality rather than a possible cognitive distortion. Various practices exist to increase self awareness and intentionally create more internal feedback that could be used to highlight biased thought. I don’t the answer yet. This is still an open question for me.

What are your thoughts and biases on this topic?


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