Why we only read information we agree with

The internet is vast, and there are many points of view. We don’t have time to read everything, so we pick and choose what we read.

How do you choose what to read? Most of the time it starts from a trusted source, then you go and keep reading more from there. Sometimes we may read something that challenges our regular point of view.

If you are reading political articles, a study has found that people spent 36 percent more time reading articles that agreed with their point of view than they did reading text that challenged their opinions.

Reading something you agree with is also called Confirmation bias, the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.

You may not even realize you are doing it, for example, Boing Boing has a left bias (according to Media Bias / Fact Check). Sky News Australia has a right bias (again according to Media Bias / Fact Check). If you read either of those sites then you get a completely different view of the news and may agree with one site over the other.

You may read the opposite view point and think it’s not true, or maybe misinformation. The headline and context may be changed slightly to fit that point of view, and if a website doesn’t have a good history of reporting something factually then you may wonder why they are doing that. It’s only misinformation if the reporting isn’t factual, is telling you about things that all the other sites don’t tell you about (they could be the only site with that information, or those things could be completely untrue), and is adding opinions within the reporting. Opinions should always try to be separate from reporting facts.

Try not to be stuck inside an echo chamber, read information you will disagree with, as you may learn about something that others aren’t telling you about.

This was inspired by an NBC News article on someone being brainwashed by the internet. In January 2021 I’m trying an experiment, I’m going to be posting at least 2 blog posts per week. This is not only to see how the engagement is, but how my writing goes over during the time. As always you can contact me directly if you have any thoughts or opinions on this or what I’ve written on. This is post number 59 as part of 100 Days To Offload.


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