10. Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias: “our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses. Therefore, confirmation bias is both affected by and feeds our implicit biases. It can be most entrenched around beliefs and ideas that we are strongly attached to or that provoke a strong emotional response.” (Source: Facing History and Ourselves)

Ask students to define confirmation bias, based on the reading.

Ask students to talk about the confirmation biases that may have played a role in the Rolling Stone’s UVA reporting, based on the reading.

Review the definitions of Fairness, Objectivity and Balance from the reading.

Ask students to discuss some of the ways to thwart confirmation bias.

How to Thwart Your Confirmation Bias:

  • Challenge Your Assumptions.
  • “Counter-argue your story hypothesis,” or source’s assertion.**
  • Actively seek out contrary information.
  • Rigorously test and verify every fact or assertion of fact before you publish, so you’ll be able to stand by the accuracy of your work later.

**(Source: From Twenty ways to cultivate an open mind, From Overcoming Bias, A Journalist’s Guide to culture & context)

Talk about this article in class: Do you fact check a campus rape survivor? FASPE Journalism. You can still pursue the truth with sensitivity. If you have to, blame your editor when you have to ask the tough questions,  but you must seek corroborating evidence.

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