Ponderings with Doug – January 31, 2020

It is all a matter of perspective.

My perspective is that it is really a matter of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is, “a type of cognitive bias that involves favoring information that confirms your previously existing beliefs or biases.

For example, imagine that a person holds a belief that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people. Whenever this person encounters a person that is both left-handed and creative, they place greater importance on this “evidence” that supports what they already believe. This individual might even seek “proof” that further backs up this belief while discounting examples that don’t support the idea.

Confirmation biases impact how we gather information, but they also influence how we interpret and recall information. For example, people who support or oppose a particular issue will not only seek information to support it, they will also interpret news stories in a way that upholds their existing ideas. They will also remember details in a way that reinforces these attitudes.”

Perhaps you have heard someone utter the phrase, “don’t confuse me with the facts.” That is a person recognizing their confirmation bias. Your confirmation bias can grow so large it becomes known as a blind spot. In 2020, I’m working on as many visual references as I can. Watch your confirmation bias so you avoid blind spots in 20/20.

Let’s ponder the upcoming season of Lent.

Did you know the Filet of Fish sandwich at McDonald’s is a response to falling hamburger sales in Lent? Actually, McDonald’s sold a Hula burger on Friday for a while in heavily Catholic areas. The Hula burger was a grilled pineapple ring and cheese on a bun. Tasty! Another franchisee came up with the Filet of Fish for the heavily Catholic areas. Guess which sandwich had the better sales?

For my free church readers, Lent is not what is in the dryer, your jeans pocket or your belly button. Lent is a season of spiritual preparation for Easter. The church has observed this season of penitence and preparation since the 1100’s. The season of Lent lasts 40 days. And for all of you worldly Protestants out there, Sunday does not count!

In my unofficial survey the two things given up most often for Lent are chocolate and Cokes. Those would be two good choices if you planned to give them up permanently. The idea of Lent is to create a new habit or a new way of living. Again, this is all in preparation for Easter. Remember Easter, the empty tomb, opened a new way of living for all who follow Jesus.

Now back to our previously mentioned confirmation bias. People have given up making New Year’s resolutions and practicing Lenten Disciplines because they tell themselves, “I can’t do it. I can’t make meaningful changes in my life.” Rather than try, just preempt the season and give up early.

I want to suggest a two-part Lenten Discipline. The first twenty days of Lent let’s become aware of confirmation bias in our lives. We all have them. Write down what you believe about any topic or relationship. Be aware of how you filter out contrary information regarding your bias. The second twenty days of Lent, pick one place you have a confirmation bias and change your mind.

How would your marriage be different? How would your family be different? How would Natchitoches be different? How would your church or faith be different? How would you be different?

What’s that you say, “I can’t change?”

Did I hear your confirmation bias?