''TheWakko says'' - Edition 7

Reading time 2-3 minutes
Just to give you a “proper” definition, if you search for a definition on “confirmation bias”, this is what Wikipedia will give you:

“… is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a certain way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs and values.”

You’ll notice that I highlighted in bold some actions/verbs in the phrase above, remember that. Let me just add a little bit more of the definition here:

“People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information, or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes.”

Yet again, I highlighted some actions/verbs. Now, for the juicy part, because this where I really want you to pay attention:

“… for emotionally charged issues…”

Right, so let me make a link/sequence here, look at the logic:

  • First, there’s a topic/issue that generates feelings on you. Then;
  • Second, those feelings influence your actions, either through: searching/selecting information, interpreting/ignoring/favouring events or scenarios or thoughts, recalling only specific parts.

So, where’s the problem?

If there’s one thing I learned clearly in my poker career is that to overcome obstacles, to solve problems/issues, you first and foremost need to have a very clear picture of the scenario. This is where (right at the beginning) confirmation bias screws you completely.

HOW ON EARTH (??) are you going to get a clear picture of the scenario if:

  • You’re emotionally charged. Reduces your rational side;
  • You’re searching/selecting information. Not having the full picture;
  • You’re interpreting/ignoring/favouring/recalling certain events, scenarios or thoughts. Once again, eliminating parts of the full story;

Do you see where I’m going with this?

At this point it should be pretty clear for you what confirmation bias is and how it will screw you. 

So, let’s get to the good part, the solution. I’ll approach this in two levels:

  • 1st level: Pretty straight forward, if there’s an issue that generates feelings on you, pay attention to the action verbs I highlighted above (see if you’re doing it), try to analyse whether you’re being a prey to confirmation bias;
  • 2nd level: March 10th of “The Daily Stoic” – Find yourself a Cato. For me this is pin-point accurate and I found it to be exactly what I needed. Since you will never be the best judge of yourself, you need a Cato. In this case, Cato is described as someone who can “stand witness to our behaviour”. Find someone to keep you “in-check”.

A very good example of all of this in our poker careers (and I can put myself in this basket), is players getting stuck in a certain way of approaching poker.
The painful part is that the longer you’re stuck, means the longer you’re repeating certain behaviours, which in turn will make the confirmation bias even stronger, after all, it is much easier changing something at an early stage, much harder after so much commitment.

How has confirmation bias held you back? Who’s your Cato? 

 Rene Kuhlman - TheWakko
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