Confirmation Bias and Defending Issues of Health and Wellbeing

Confirmation bias and the dangers of forcing someone to defend their position on issues of health and wellbeing.

“Altogether it takes 7 billion billion billion (that’s 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 7 octillion) atoms to make you. No one can say why those 7 billion billion billion have such an urgent desire to be you. They are mindless particles, after all, without a single thought or notion between them. Yet somehow for the length of your existence, they will build and maintain all the countless systems and structures necessary to keep you humming, to make you you, to give you form and shape and let you enjoy the rare and supremely agreeable condition known as life.”Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Life itself is quite amazing, and the human body, brain and consciousness ranks very highly amongst the most fascinating.

We know painfully little about how it all works, and although many people will point out how many things can go wrong, I am just astounded daily how many things go right!

Every person is different, and different on so many levels. This is something to be embraced, explored and revered.

Allow those around you to learn and grow by avoiding the ‘I told you so’ dance for all but the most special occasions.

Never stop learning and work especially hard at finding information which contradicts your own opinion. Not that you need to adopt it, but be aware of it and get out of the echo chamber created by our social media.

When discussing health choices with your family or medical providers, when deciding on health choices for yourself, pay attention to the nuances.

Far too few people are willing to truly contemplate the complexity of the world around them, embrace uncertainty and use mindfulness to navigate their way through this magical experience we call life.

We often hold people to account for things they said long before they learnt more, as if they are never allowed to blossom into more colourful human beings.

We sometimes put people in a position where they have to defend their point of view so vigorously that it becomes part of their identity, and this negatively impacts everyone’s ability to learn and grow.

In a world where we can find support for any opinion, where your attention span has become the highest commodity in the world, confirmation bias is rife.

I’m sure there are many cases of polarizing certainty in health and wellbeing you can identify in your own life.

Some are sure the vaccines against covid works, some are sure they only cause harm, some are sure you need to wear a mask, others are sure it makes you more sick. Some are sure they need to take daily Vit D supplements; others are sure it is not needed. Some are sure you need to eat vegan, others sure you need a high fat diet and yet others are sure that a carnivore diet is key.

Over the last couple of years, we have had highly polarizing messaging, many of those with strong underlying financial motivations, dividing people into these camps of certainty.

Is it surprising then that we don’t exactly know how humans work?

How intriguing that most of us are not entirely insane, that our bodies function in an astoundingly complex coordinated way for many years and that we have created alliances with trillions of microbial cells most of us are not even aware of.

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