Something extraordinary happens when we overcome confirmation bias. It’s never about one idea. It’s like untangling a sweater of misinformation. Even if the initial information that feeds our confirmation biases is accurate, our formed associations cannot be. There is no way one person can be one hundred percent correct.
The analogy of the cave is a brilliant representation of how the mind works. There is always this brilliant place beyond definitive truth, a place about feeling and the idea of things, not their definitions. Our definitions come through drawing hard outlines, where the inner sanctuaries of our minds prefer to be more fluid.
Confirmation bias interferes with fluidity. Technically speaking, beliefs are emotional memories. We’ve already established that the amygdala keeps us safe. Our beliefs are safety mechanisms, a familiar reflection of what has kept us safe in the past. We solidified most of them during early development, and they grow in power the less secure we feel. Conversely, the more confident we are, the less likely it is facing something that challenges our way of thinking will impact us. The less threatening they are to our identity.
By the time our subject reconnected with Amber in the cave, you could see a marked difference in her perception of herself. There is the function of defiantly fighting to be right, to secure the truth of our biases, and the confident conviction of know that whatever the truth, we are safe in it. When we finally move beyond fight-or-flight responses, we don’t attach emotion to facts. We observe facts and use them as a resource.
Faith is a kind of memory, but that doesn’t make it any less real or vital to our survival. It must be the emotional standard by which we measure everything else. It is a mistake to apply reason to faith, as there is no association between intelligence and confirmation bias. Both are equally necessary. To have confirmation biases creates stability in the mind. However, the ability to question them gives us the freedom to grow.
There is a term in modern psychology called “Illusory Correlation.” Illusory correlation is when our mind perceives a relationship between two things even when no such relationship exists. This correlation commonly happens with people. We assume that someone who looks like a friend we once knew will act in the same way, but it’s more than the assumption that’s the problem. We will go as far as to either convince ourselves they are the same when they are not or abandon good relationships because they do not fit the familiar comfort of what we once knew.
Correlation, or what we might call familiarity, does not prove or even suggest a connection. It might better be called abstract synchronicity. Synchronicity is a thing we could define as confirmation bias. We see a relationship because the brain stores information through connections, but we put ourselves in a dangerous situation when we believe those connections are facts and not just perceptions.
On the other hand, a spurious correlation is when two observed occurrences have no logical connection but have a relation created by an unseen third occurrence. Spurious Correlation is the innovative mind. It is the part of our psyche that says, “What if?” and is vital to transformation. We cannot change the way our minds store information. Connection is how our brain processes data. However, when we can go beyond the assumed relationship, life changes to something beyond the experience of any assumed occurrence. We have light-bulb moments. The invention of the wheel becomes the car and maybe even a hovercraft. Our possibility of a better life comes in our ability to see beyond the initial synchronicity and to perceive what we have never imagined before.