Many biases are the result of evolution. Source: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay If you spend any time on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, odds are you’ve seen people railing about biases. The term bias is thrown around a lot, often in reference to errors in decision making (e.g., confirmation bias) or observed differences among groups or phenomena (e.g., gender bias in STEM fields). Bias has now acquired a clearly derogatory definition, as can be seen in the Merriam-Webster’s current definition compared to the definition offered in 1828 or even 1913. The original meaning was “a leaning of the mind” so as “to lean or incline from a state of indifference.” Though Herbert Spencer in 1873 remarked that biases can influence our beliefs much more so than evidence, it wouldn’t be accurate to conclude that biases themselves are bad. They simply represent a predisposition to favor a given conclusion over other conclusions. Some biases are hardwired into us from evolution, as I discussed in reference to error management theory. Other biases are learned through socialization (e.g., a tendency to accept the religious beliefs of one’s upbringing) or direct experience (e.g., being more accepting of medical advice from a doctor than an auto mechanic). Still other… Read full this story
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