Confirmation bias in healing and awakening: How confirmation bias holds mistaken assumptions in place and what we can do about it

In this video, Derek from Veritasium demonstrates an example of confirmation bias. We think we know how something is, so we look for confirmation instead of looking for instances where it may not be true.


As with so much human, it’s natural, innocent, and it can sometimes get us into trouble if we are not aware of what’s happening. In an evolutionary context, it makes sense for us to try to find a theory that works, and continue operating from that theory until we organically encounter sometimes that doesn’t fit.

Often, we’ll need to encounter things that don’t fit several times, or one dramatic time, before we start questioning and revising our assumptions. And we’ll just hope that encountering something that doesn’t fit our assumptons don’t have too much of an adverse effect on our life.

The confirmation bias typically saves time and energy and is a pragmatic way to go about it. Sometimes, we create problems for ourselves and others because of it. And we may miss out of important discoveries.

That’s why an important part of science, as Derek says, is about disproving our ideas about how things work. We observe. We have an idea of how it works. We check to see that it fits our data. And then we set out to disprove it. If we can’t, it’s a useful idea. (In real life, scientists also fall into confirmation bias – for the sake of convenience, because of lack of resources, because they want to shine for a while, and so on.)


What role does confirmation bias play in healing and awakening? How does it maintain stressful beliefs and the sense that we, most fundamentally, are a separate self? How can we apply some remedies for confirmation bias to find healing and what we more fundamentally are?

If my system holds the thought that I am a victim as true, then I’ll perceive and live as if it’s true. I’ll find lots of examples. I’ll reinforce and tell myself and others about those examples. I may even put myself in situations where I’ll get it confirmed.

If my system holds the sense of being a separate self as true, it will be the same. I’ll perceive and live as if it’s true, and that itself confirms it to me.

And that’s the same with any stressful belief – whether it creates and holds in place an emotional issue, painful identity, or a sense of being a separate self.

What’s the remedy?

The remedy is the usual one for confirmation bias. We are aware of confirmation bias and how it plays itself out in general and in each case. And we set out to disprove it.

I have the belief that I am a victim. What happens when I hold that as true? How would it be if it wasn’t here? What are the turnarounds, and can I find specific examples from my own life of how each of these are as or more true than the original thought? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

I assume I am this human self, which may not be wrong. But am I, in my own first-person experience, more fundamentally something else? What do I find when I look? What do I find if I explore this with the help of some structured pointers? (For instance, Headless experiments or the Big Mind process.)

In this way, examining our assumptions – held in place partly through confirmation bias – can help us find healing and notice what we more fundamentally are.

There is a twist here. When we find healing, and when we find what we more fundamentally are, we can question that too. Can I disprove it? Can I disprove I am not a victim? Can I disprove I am capacity for my world, and what my field of experience happens within and as?

This tends to strengthen and deepen the healing and the noticing of what we are. It addresses nagging doubts in the back of our mind.


an example of confirmation bias
notice how it operates in the context of healing and awakening
set out to disprove (a) stressful belief is true / is not true, (b) we are this human self / not this human self / not this field / not capacity etc.
use it both ways

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