What Republicans, Democrats, Lebron Fans, and Christians ALL have in common.
This week has literally been information overload!
If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you know about all of this weeks’ special congressional hearings that have taken place. Both current and former FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and Special Intelligence staffers and officers were brought before a special US Congressional committee for interviews and questioning. A lot (most) of the activities revolved around the most recent U.S. Presidential election and the involvement of other countries and what role various elected officials – past and present – played with it all. The media has had a field day. And they’re still going. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Just turn to any news station and you will see a 24-Hour “Breaking News” approach to it all. Every comment (and is being) dissected, body language evaluated and psychoanalyzed, timelines discussed, and to be sure – battle lines are clear.
If you were to turn on CNN and Fox News and watch them simultaneously, you could almost believe you were watching two different events. The reactions and spin has been on steroids – on both channels – nonstop!
While all of this has been going on, the NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals, and NCAA College Baseball Playoffs are taking place. In this post, I’m not going to focus much on the NHL Finals or College Baseball. I haven’t watched much of the NHL Finals. I’ve tried to watch it, but I’ve still got a hockey learning curve… If you want to give me a crash course, feel free! I’d welcome it.
But, as the NBA Finals have progressed, as usual, when Lebron James (LJ) is involved, he is always compared and associated with Michael Jordan (MJ). The barbershop talk and sports arguments abound. Is he as good as MJ? Is he the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)? Can the Cleveland Cavaliers rebound from being three games behind? Is what KD (Kevin Durant) did in switching to the Golden State Warriors the same as what LJ did when he went to the Miami Heat? And depending on your opinion of Lebron, you are going to answer ALL of those questions differently – possibly VERY differently.
And yet enter another discussion and debate. Scroll through almost any person’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram Timeline, at some point you’ll see lots of discussion around politics, sports, religion, and culture.
I’m not sure that I’ve gone a week in the past two years and at some point not seen someone mention that “Christians are judgmental” or “I knew the church was like that…” or “That’s why I stopped going…” or “Look at those pimp preachers…” or “That’s why I’m spiritual but not religious…” and the list goes on.
Some of these comments have validity and yet, in my opinion focuses on symptoms but stops short at addressing the root issues. That’s another post for another time.
Enter – Confirmation Bias!
A few weeks ago, while listening to a Ted Talk, I was re-introduced to this notion of Confirmation Bias.
A quick search on the topic yields loads of research, articles, and opinions of it. Too much for me to totally unpack in this ‘brief’ post.
We all have seen it or participated in. You believe a person to be a person of integrity and you look for information to confirm you pre-established opinion. You believe a person or a group is bad, so anything that suggests what you already thought only confirms it – in your mind.
Psychology Today in this article suggests, “The danger, of course, is that you leave this belief unchecked and start to act as though it were true.”
LEFT UNCHECKED! That’s a big deal. WHY? Because we all have the potential to be operating based on WRONG or UNTRUE information.
I believe confirmation bias is real and alive today like never before. I believe we are seeing the effects of it every single day on our social media feeds, on our television networks, in our newspaper articles, in our daily conversations and interactions and in peoples assumptions, approaches and attitudes with one another.
Maybe you don’t believe it’s a big deal.
Well, I would/could argue – that for our society and culture today – it is. It is particularly a big deal for those who followers of Jesus Christ.
Sure, its probably not life altering if you have confirmation bias about whether Lebron or Michael is the greatest professional basketball player in history. It’s not going to change the world if you have confirmation bias about which grocery store may be the best (it could affect how great your food is…).
But make no mistake about it, confirmation bias about a people group is serious business. Confirmation bias about long-standing untested and subjective opinions and biases that have been passed down that are untrue is deadly. We see it happening every day in America.
As Christians, we are called to live lives that reflect the heart of God. Pure and truth! The heart of God is pure and is truth. This ought to be our heart, our motive, and our approach. To walk in THE truth. Jesus said He is the truth. Holding on to untested, unchecked and wrong information doesn’t allow us to walk in the truth. Quite contrary. We walk in lies and misguided information. Now we’re supporting another Army – the father of lies.
As Christians we are called to a higher standard than to use our faith, religion or spirituality to “confirm” our personal opinions and biases that could systematically and culturally demean, demoralize, and diminish the impact, power, and ability of others and their potential. This is faith on our terms, not on God’s terms. Remember, we are Christ followers BEFORE we are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives or independents. We are Christ followers BEFORE we are our race. We are Christ followers BEFORE we our denominational affiliation.
To live through our untested, unchecked lens is to question the power of God, misunderstand the grace of God, and dismiss the hope that God gives us in our desire to have him remove our sin, offer us forgiveness, and reveal his purposes in our lives.
How am I dealing with my confirmation bias? I am working to test EVERYTHING! If I have a belief, I am working to slow down and invite the Holy Spirit to serve as my filter for any thought or attitude or belief. Actually, this is very biblical. 1 Thessalonians 5: 21 NLT says, “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.”
Can you imagine if every Christian, husband, wife, child, leader, employer, employee, coworker, friend, family member, enemy, politician, police officer, civil servant, medical professional, educator, food service professional, and influencer checked and tested their biases? What could happen? How would our world look different?
As you are reading this article, is there anything happening or stirring in your heart, right now?
Image Source: https://amplitude.com/blog/2016/06/07/cognitive-biases-ruining-growth/ and https://i.ytimg.com/vi/vynHhGpbREE/maxresdefault.jpg