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News Literacy Week: How confirmation bias impacts the news we seek

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 17:15:18-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Confirmation bias is ingrained in all of us. No matter how open-minded we strive to be, no matter how long we study facts before reaching conclusions, this bias unintentionally shapes what we believe.

“We are prone once we have an idea in our head, an expectation, a point of view, to look for evidence and remember the evidence that fits that expectation or point of view,” said Dr. Lee Budesheim, a psychology professor at Creighton University.

But how does this affect the news we consume?

“Say you're a Democrat watching Fox News or you're a Republican watching MSNBC or something like that. You think you're looking at the other side and being open to what they have to say, but what you don't recognize oftentimes is that you are more critical of evidence from the other side than you are with the evidence of your own side,” said Dr. Budesheim.

Overcoming this natural tendency isn’t easy.

“One of the cures, so to speak, is to consider the opposite. You know, imagine turning any fact or rumor that you hear and turn it around and saying what if this study, or this person, had said just the opposite of what I’m hearing them say?” said Dr. Budesheim.

“If you only believe one news broadcast or one news station versus another news station, you are not going to get the whole story,” said Dr. Adam Tyma, a communications professor at UNO.

Dr. Tyma suggests looking at a variety of sources, even wire services like the Associated Press.

“When I teach my news classes or my journalism classes or any of my media classes, the first thing I tell them is the last thing I want you doing is using your Google news feed as your news source or your Facebook feed as a news source,” said Dr. Tyma.

With more places than ever to get your news from, it’s important to think critically and work hard to decipher a trained journalist from any regular Joe with a YouTube channel.

“Your brain is just as important as your body is, so be critically aware of what you’re putting in there. Be conscious of what you’re putting in there. And never hesitate to ask yourself, does this make sense to me?” said Dr. Tyma.

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