Two Meanings of ‘Overcoming Bias’ – For One: Focus is Fundamental. For Second: ?
‘Overcoming Bias’ has two meanings.
First: Right Now, as in ‘You have a mistaken belief, caused by a cognitive bias you don’t know you have, and I will cause you to correct that belief by pointing out the cognitive bias which caused it.’
Almost always, these claims are disguised injunctions to change your Focus —
Usually to Expand your Focus:
Availability Bias – Expand your Focus to include information besides the striking and vivid information that is carrying you away;
Confirmation Bias – Expand your Focus to include information that lessens the force of the information (you cherish) that confirms your existing belief;
Disconfirmation Bias – Expand your Focus to include information that heightens the force of information (you despise) that is inconsistent with your existing belief;
Fundamental Attribution Error –Expand focus to see Situations as possible causes of others’ behavior, besides the Personality characteristics you are using now;
Status Quo Bias – Expand to see alternatives besides the status quo
De`formation Professionelle – Expand beyond the conventions of your own profession:
Illusion of Control – Expand to see that you may not be able to influence the outcomes of interest;
And maybe 15 others (of 67), but who’s counting?
Rarely an injunction to Narrow your Focus:
Information Bias – Narrow your Focus to seek only information that can affect action.
Second meaning of ‘Overcoming Bias’: In the Future, as in ‘How can I avoid being influenced by my own (not yet known to me ) biases in the future?’
The only effective way I have found is to invite criticism of my ideas by others – present my ideas in seminars, send them to journals for blind reviewers, bring up with colleagues at lunch, on blogs, etc — because I am blind to the biases that I have, by definition: if I were not blind to them I wouldn’t ‘have’ them. Of course, this only works if I am free of the Bias Blind Spot Bias. (Some biases I can prevent by avoiding the occasion of bias, as by not gambling to forestall the probability biases.)