Belief Bias

Let’s talk about cognitive biases: BELIEF BIAS

The belief bias describes the tendency to evaluate the strength of an argument by virtue of how believable the conclusion is (to you).

It’s a form of confirmation bias because conclusions that you find believable tend to be those that support your preexisting beliefs.

For example, someone could say “pelicans are birds, and all birds fly. Therefore, pelicans fly.” Seems to make sense, right? We know that birds tend to fly, so the conclusion seems believable to us. However, upon further thought, we may realize that not all birds fly (e.g., penguins), making the argument fallacious.

Another example is time-restricted feeding. There is no shortage of reports showing no differences in weight loss compared to regular dieting, as well as reports showing that it improves metabolic health more than regular dieting. People in the evidence-based and alternative circles will latch onto one narrative and discard the other because of the belief bias instead of acknowledging the nuances and context of both.

One last example of a common way this plays out in manipulation tactics. People often claim we just don’t understand their position because we aren’t “smart enough”. This tactic is extremly effective, especially when coming from those whom hold positions in the academic realm, or a position of power. We incorrectly conclude that just because they are educated in their field of expertise, their logic en route must be solid too. They are an authority in that particular subject, so they must be trustworthy, correct? Ya, no. But we are likely to accept their conclusions as truth and we don’t question the flawed logic or motives due to the belief bias.

Now how do we avoid this bias?

The easiest way to overcome the belief bias is to simply recognize when you have a visceral agreement with something, like sharing an article based on the headline and not the content within, and then take some time to reflect and ask whether something actually makes sense or whether you’re just agreeing because it fits your beliefs and biases.

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