When we identify too strongly with a deeply held belief, idea, or outcome, a plethora of cognitive biases can rear their ugly heads. Take confirmation bias, for example. This is our inclination to eagerly accept any information that confirms our opinion, and undervalue anything that contradicts it. It’s remarkably easy to spot in other people (especially those you don’t agree with politically), but extremely hard to spot in ourselves because the biasing happens unconsciously. But it’s always there.
Criminal cases where jurors unconsciously ignore exonerating evidence and send an innocent person to jail because of a bad experience with someone of the defendant’s demographic. The growing inability to hear alternative arguments in good faith from other parts of the political spectrum. Conspiracy theorists swallowing any unconventional belief they can get their hands
We all have some deeply held belief that immediately puts us on the defensive. Defensiveness doesn’t mean that belief is actually incorrect. But it does mean we’re vulnerable to bad reasoning around it. And if you can learn to identify the emotional warning signs in yourself, you stand a better chance of evaluating the other side’s evidence or arguments more objectively.
Liv Boeree writing in Vox