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Outlier’s Path

Confirmation Bias & Disconfirming Information

Confirmation bias is our tendency to find and piece together information that supports our existing ideas, beliefs, or views. Even when we see evidence that contradicts our existing view, our human software which has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years may still interpret it in a manner that reinforces our current perspective, which is Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.

Despite confirmation bias being one of the most studied failings of our human brain, we still accept whatever we read on X that fits our biases, not because it is actually true or has evidence to support it. Since we are bombarded with information, our brains take shortcuts. Constantly reevaluating our worldview is exhausting. As a consequence, confirmatory information is taken seriously, while disconfirming information is treated with skepticism. While we like to believe our brains are rational and principled, our brains are, first and foremost, lazy.

Worse than being lazy, our brains have an infinite capacity for self-deception and delusion. Embedded in our survival instinct is our ability to rationalize, minimize, and deny inconvenient truths. However, in a dangerous situation, you can’t change what you don’t see, and not seeing doesn’t miraculously navigate you through a crucible moment. Repeating to yourself that everything is fine, doesn’t make it so.

Not all is lost. Since we are aware that we suffer from confirmation bias, we know to slow down, find and absorb disconfirming information, and reevaluate our views from first principles. Furthermore, while each of us is attached to our personal biased views, we are quite capable of spotting the weaknesses in someone else’s logic. This is why at Sequoia we make decisions as a team through a truth-seeking discussion, surfacing disconfirming information, and updating our views to find the best path forward.

Remember to slow down and work as a team in order to speed up.