Red Facts and Blue Facts

by Oct 2, 2021Theme: What Is Truth?

Continued from yesterday…

We don’t have to move further than our social media posts to find proof of motivated reasoning. We are quick to share a link if it supports our religious or political beliefs, but either ignore the story or rigorously fact-check it if it doesn’t.

When we identify with a particular group, such as a nation, race, political party, religion, educational or professional group, sports team, or even a gang, the social incentives for a unified group-think are so powerful that even the most educated are unable to filter facts through an unbiased lens.

We are at a deep level afraid to lose our collective identity especially when our personal lives don’t add up, because at least our community provides us with a feeling of superiority and specialness. So we unconsciously alter or twist facts so as not to lose the perception that at least our tribe is exceptional (even if I’m not).

Evidence of our propensity toward group identification can be seen in all aspects of life. Professor Ditto uses the example of the current state of politics when he states that:

“We now live in a world where there are red facts and blue facts, and I believe these biased motivated-reasoning processes fuel political conflict. If someone firmly believes some fact to be true that you just as firmly believe to be false, it is hard for either of you not to see that other person as stupid, disingenuous, or both.”

Religion and spirituality are no different. In my religious background, I remember seeking out texts that supported my central spiritual worldview and the group I identified with. I was not really seeking the truth as much as I was looking for evidence that would strengthen what I already considered to be the truth.

Subconsciously I was driven to establish my worth so that I could feel special, and therefore get the recognition and respect that would silence the nagging doubts that I’m not enough the way I am. I needed to be validated within my tribe to alleviate some of the fears and insecurities that were lodged in my heart. But I was not aware that this was my motive; my mind was not yet able to consider that what I believed could be wrong.

To be continued tomorrow…

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