The mind is where the alchemy of the universe comes together as consciousness. If we harness this power, we can direct the trajectory of our thinking.
How To Avoid Confirmation Bias
Here’s the main point, not every thought is valid and accurate. That’s because the programming of our worldview has several sources. Some of our programming is part of the hard wiring of our personalities and instincts. These preferences play a critical role in our value judgments. (1)
However, the most authoritative programming comes from the cultural narrative. This programming is so powerful it can override the values of our instincts. Today, the primary sources of this are consumer advertising, which are extensions of political and religious propaganda. Here’s where we must begin asking questions. The first rule of inner work is don’t believe everything your mind tells you. Learn to question everything. Always validate your thoughts with facts and reality.
A lot is going on inside the machinery of our psyche. It isn’t easy to sort out the influences, but we can do it using the right tools. Inner work is hard intellectually and emotionally. We are prone to the mind trap of confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias makes us attempt to fit everything we experience within our worldview boundaries. It becomes the default setting of our paradigm, and if it contains negative bias and prejudice, these show up in our thinking and actions. It makes perception quicker and easier, but not accurate. So, this default setting distorts our thinking and values by filtering everything.
Test First Approach to Life
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ― Albert Einstein
We are all exposed to these programming sources via social media. Approximately 50 percent of the population follow a sect of Western organized religion, so they also attend religious meetings and listen to religious-oriented broadcasts, increasing their exposure to harmful propaganda.
The more you expose yourself to the sources above, the more susceptible you are to “hypnotic suggestion.” Hypnotic suggestion is used extensively in groupthink manipulation tactics of Western organized religious indoctrination. It’s how religions make suicide bombers and program unsubstantiated and illogical ideas. That’s why we must learn to monitor our self-talk, thinking, and emotional triggers.
Some biases are not harmful. For instance, let’s say you like the color purple. You like purple clothes, and this type of bias isn’t negative on the surface. However, your preference may have unintended consequences. It depends on where you get the dye for your clothes.
For centuries, the source of purple dye was the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. Today, this city is called Lebanon, and “Tyrian purple” comes from a sea snail known as Bolinus brandaris. It was so rare that it became worth its weight in gold. It depends on where it comes from and what impact it may have. It’s why understanding our confirmation bias is so significant.
The goal is to become a freethinker. A freethinker is someone free of all unhealthy bias and prejudice. We may not reach this ideal goal, but we can strive to get closer. We do this by identifying and removing as much negative programming as possible. We shouldn’t just give up. Don’t say I’ll never get there. Instead, say, I’m not there yet, but I’m on the way. We should monitor our thoughts and correct them. It’s how we make incremental progress in positive thinking.
Combining analytical tools and meditative practices is the best way to do this. Sorry, but this will take some work. And it may raise some scary emotions of fear and anger, so be sure to use the strategy of conducting regular emotional checks.
Don’t believe everything your mind tells you without testing the source because your emotions affect your thinking. So, a structured research approach will help you avoid the distress of cognitive dissonance. It will make this research less stressful. And it will yield more accurate research results.
Always use the “test first approach” to anything that may affect your life long term. How often should you check or test? We recommend you test it before you use it each time. That’s a lot of testing, but it’s worth it, and here’s what you should test for and why.
Testing For Confirmation Bias
We can overcome the effects of our negative biases. It takes an honest appraisal of our worldview and a plan of action. The goal is to correct thinking that supports any negative bias and prejudice.
“If you are thinking about buying a particular make of new car, you suddenly see people driving that car all over the roads. If you just ended a longtime relationship, every song you hear seems to be written about love. If you are having a baby, you start to see babies everywhere. Confirmation bias is seeing the world through a filter.” ― David McRaney
The above example shows two things. First, this biased filter is powerful and can influence our values and thinking. The second thing it tells us is that not all biases are negative. Some are neutral, some impartially, or predispositions are not harmful.
Our goal is to find harmful programming. The “test first approach” will help us identify dangerous things. Confirmation bias ranges from harmless to destructive. A benign preference would be that you like the color purple. But, if you create a rule stating everyone must wear purple all the time, your choice becomes negative. It becomes a harmful bias if you take a step further and punish those who do not wear purple.
1) Identify Negative Programming
The first step is identifying and acknowledging any negative programming in your paradigm. Several tools are helpful for this task. It is often the most challenging step, so use emotional checks throughout your research. This process will minimize the biases triggered by confronting your sacred ground. It will make the process smoother and keep you from slipping into cognitive dissonance. The results will be more accurate, and you’ll enjoy the research experience more.
These tools help us question the cultural narrative, which is something we need to make a routine practice. One good place to start this investigation is our sacred ground, our core beliefs.
One excellent tool for exploring our core beliefs is comparative analysis. It is a structured method of investigating beliefs and concepts related to worldviews; some call this kind of exercise comparative religious study. It’s a valuable process to guide our research, which provides consistent and accurate results. It will unmask the origins of your core beliefs, which allows you to change your worldview.
An excellent way to start is to pick an important topic in your belief system. Then find this topic in other belief systems. You’ll be surprised at how many beliefs you have in common with other systems. Most religious concepts are found in earlier philosophies, mythologies, religions, and superstitions. Some of the most common topics are:
Comparative with others. This comparison provides us with the perspective to question. Again, don’t believe everything your mind tells you. Remember, we can change what we think.
Logical Reasoning tools include Logical Reasoning, Spotting Logical Fallacy, and the Truth-Seekers Axioms. These tools will enhance critical thinking, enabling you to discern facts from fiction. We suggest marking these articles and referring to them regularly.
These tools are self-illuminating. They show us how people and organizations use arguments to sell and persuade. That’s how you see their misuse. Our modern culture is ripe with propaganda. You will spot fallacies in everything from product advertising to religious programming.
The Enneagram is another tool that helps us understand our Ego, personality, and instincts. The Enneagram is a blending of ancient tradition, which has become a scientifically validated system of psychometric knowledge. It is detailed enough for clinicians to use, while it is easy to understand for the average person.
This tool will reveal your default settings of personality and instinct. You will discover you are not your Ego. It is a tool to connect us with the Observer of our experience. One tool we use with this process is the “repeating question.” This method is powerful for getting to the subconscious mind’s programming. It will help you explore your memories and the programming of your self-talk, and it is also a tool we can use in the next step to remove negative programming.
2) Remove Negative Programming
After you identify the programming, it’s time to repair it. Many people find these negative values scripts come from their childhood. That’s when most of the programming of the cultural narrative takes place. Our fundamental values come from this early period when we are most susceptible to self-hypnosis and group hypnosis manipulation. If we learn to question things early in life, it becomes a natural skill. Otherwise, we must learn this skill.
Remember, you are not responsible for prejudices installed when you were a child, but you are responsible for correcting the negative programming as an adult. Our thinking impacts everyone in our sphere of influence.
Reprogramming your negative bias and prejudice is serious “inner work.” It involves two significant concepts. Stop doing things that are harmful and start doing healthy things. It will challenge your confirmation bias. So, be sure to use emotional checks at least every 15 minutes.
The first thing we need to do is limit or remove your exposure to negative programming. The most common source of this is religion. Religious bias and prejudice infiltrate our cultural narrative, justifying bigotry and discrimination. Politics also plays a crucial role in installing harmful thought scripts and values.
Some people like to start by removing the beliefs that are easiest. It is an excellent strategy. It gives you momentum as you build a record of success. Other people go for the programming that is the most destructive. This approach will yield the most dramatic shift in perception. If you choose this route, work with another person or a small group. That way, you have someone to help keep you on track and encourage you through the change.
Almost any compulsive behavior is a good starting place. The more ambitious track is to go directly for the negative bias and prejudice, including religious, racial, or ethnic prejudice. It also includes discrimination of any kind, gender, or economic.
Second, remove or break the negative patterns of thought. Don’t believe everything your mind tells you. Learn to examine your ideas because these create values that become behaviors. Breaking old behavior patterns isn’t easy, but it is critical. You can’t make a better future without breaking the shakes of negative thinking. It requires removing negative self-talk. Again, the repeating question is an excellent tool for this task.
That’s it. It only takes a few steps to remove, but they are often difficult to root out because habitual thinking is at the core of our psyche.
3) Replace with Positive Programming
It’s important not to skip steps. Don’t overlay positive programming over negative. It doesn’t work. Identify and do what’s necessary to repair negative programming first.
Once you have repaired your programming, affirmations help redirect the trajectory of your thought life. They work best in good soil. Your mind is like a garden. Repair the ground, plant good seeds, and water. You are ready to reprogram if you have completed the first two steps. Now it’s time to give the mind the good food of positive affirmations.
Focus on Consciousness Development
Everyone has their particular way of awakening their spiritual gifts, sleeping in their DNA. Awakening is a process. When we open them, it sets our spiritual walk into motion. It opens our minds to new potentials.
We recommend developing your own path with the use of several technologies. This eclectic approach isn’t new. For example, Gurdjieff’s method of self-development is a similar collection. We divide these tools into four groups:
Don’t Believe Everything Your Mind Tells You — Test it!
To recap, don’t assume that every thought you have is accurate. Learn to test your thoughts and beliefs. Be self-aware and learn how to spot the use of advertising and religious propaganda. As a precautionary measure, you need to minimize or eliminate the sources of harmful programming. Do your research and use as many tools as possible to investigate your consciousness.
Do you have other thoughts you’d like to share on this subject? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
(1) Confirmation bias in human reinforcement learning. Evidence from counterfactual feedback processing, National Library of Medicine.