#132: Beware Of Confirmation Bias

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This is a podcast episode titled, #132: Beware Of Confirmation Bias. The summary for this episode is: On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, DC & DG break down confirmation bias & why it's one of the most common biases that impacts how we make decisions at work and at home (and one of the top 25 Cognitive Biases that we deal with every day; arguably it's the #1 bias we have). Books mentioned on this episode: Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini If you're a fan of the show, we'd love it if you left a six-star rating on Apple Podcasts. And if you leave a review and then take a screenshot and tweet at @dcancel and @davegerhardt, we'll hook you up with copies of the two books mentioned on this show.

Speaker 1: All right, we're recording.

Speaker 2: We're back, finally.

Speaker 1: We're back.

Speaker 2: We're still in recovery mode.

Speaker 1: Recovery mode.

Speaker 2: We just finished Hypergrowth West.

Speaker 1: Unbelievable.

Speaker 2: At San Francisco. Unbelievable, totally different than Hypergrowth East, but it's been a month, it's been a month.

Speaker 1: Can I confess something to you?

Speaker 2: Okay, go ahead.

Speaker 1: At about 9: 01 that day.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: I was very nervous.

Speaker 2: I saw you sitting on the stage.

Speaker 1: And Burger, who's one of our, and Burger and Eve two of the sales team in San Francisco, were backstage doing the like speaker prep and whatever. And they were all hyped up because they were so excited for Hypergrowth West, because we just had east and the whole San Francisco team had like FOMO. And I was just like, I didn't want to talk to anybody. I didn't want to look at anybody, because I kept looking out at the crowd and I'm freaking out. I'm like, they're not showing up. Oh my God. We came all the way to San Francisco and they are not showing up. Tell me you didn't feel that for a minute? I did. I was like, where are the people?

Speaker 2: Where are the people? And then like nine-

Speaker 1: San Francisco likes to roll late.

Speaker 2: They roll crosstalk.

Speaker 1: You like to come in late.

Speaker 2: So I'm freaking out. And then Janice texted me.

Speaker 1: Because we started at 8: 00.

Speaker 2: Well, we opened the doors at 8: 00, we started at 9: 00 and Janice texted me, it's 9: 01, there's 400 people there. 10 minutes later, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900. So finally it kept climbing and climbing and climbing and you know, by 10 o'clock, I couldn't really see from where I was, but I looked at Instagram and I saw Alius and a bunch of other people that were in the back and it was packed.

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2: And so then I could finally relax, but I think I blacked out during your opener. I blacked out during your opener and that just like-

Speaker 1: Oh my goodness, you went dark?

Speaker 2: I went dark. crosstalk. Most anxiety I've had since I've been here, for real. And it was funny, because I talked to Blair, Blair Shane, she's the CMO of Sequoia-

Speaker 1: Capital.

Speaker 2: And she was there behind stage, backstage because they were like the second thing of the day and I said, is this a San Francisco thing, is it just like people show up late? And she's like, they show up late. But I was like, we should have started at 10:00. She's like, no, because if you start at 10: 00, people would have came at 10:30. If you started at 11: 00, they would've came at 11:30. So now we know and we made it, it was amazing.

Speaker 1: San Francisco was cool, right? They come in late. T.

Speaker 2: They were cool. They came in late. The people who were there though, I think got the best show of the day, which was Patty, Patty McCord, right off the bat.

Speaker 1: Yeah, she kicked it off, she was the first speaker.

Speaker 2: She had slides, but she was just talking and she held the audience for 45 minutes because she's so real and had all those stories. So it was amazing. But now we're on, we're back.

Speaker 1: All right, what are we talking about now?

Speaker 2: So today we're going to talk about a topic that we should have talked about a while ago. I can't believe we haven't talked about it yet. It's confirmation bias.

Speaker 1: Okay. All right.

Speaker 2: It's simple, but it's complex.

Speaker 1: Super complex.

Speaker 2: Can you define-

Speaker 1: All the simple things are complicated.

Speaker 2: So what is confirmation bias? Why do you want to talk about it?

Speaker 1: It's one of the biases, you know we talk about the cognitive biases all the time, but this one is super important one, right? Many of us when we form an opinion, this is a dangerous one because many of us form an opinion quickly. And then confirmation bias kicks in AKA in the form of, we start looking, we start ignoring stuff that we should be listening to, and only looking for the facts that confirm our bias that we've already formed.

Speaker 2: So back it up even further. So confirmation bias is one of there's 25 from Charlie Munger, but there's hundreds I've seen of cognitive biases. Would you put me on and I didn't know. And it's just like they are, if you want to really understand marketing and human behavior, like this is where all this stuff is rooted.

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: Like the cognitive science, right? The social psychology, all that stuff. So we all have, we all as people, we have these natural biases that we can't really do anything about. They're all kind of natural instincts and reactions.

Speaker 1: No, but this is the one that you should probably look for to the most because this is you closing off. We always talk about know ego, humility, all that stuff, right? This is the one that'll lead you there the most because this is you shutting yourself down from hearing about facts that you don't want to hear about. That may be the real facts. And instead looking for evidence that confirms what you already preconceived.

Speaker 2: So a lot of biases out there. I think this is the most important one confirmation bias. Okay, let me give you an example. You hit me with this recently. We've been doing a bunch of hiring.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Speaker 2: Here's an easy crosstalk.

Speaker 1: What is that Kombucha?

Speaker 2: This is Kombucha.

Speaker 1: Okay, let's not show that label there, because that's not a sponsor.

Speaker 2: Oh, they're not sponsoring us.

Speaker 1: No, because we, you know, LaCroix.

Speaker 2: You're right.

Speaker 1: Never came through.

Speaker 2: They never came through, were just drinking water and off- brand kombucha around here. No labels. We're trying to make a hire, a big role that we've had open for awhile. Finally meet somebody good.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: And I'm rushing to like, oh DC, we got to hire this person. And what do you say to me in that situation?

Speaker 1: Slow down, confirmation bias.

Speaker 2: Slow down, be careful of confirmation bias, right? You come across the first thing you see and you grab it.

Speaker 1: Hiring is a perfect example of crosstalk.

Speaker 2: You think that's where the most confirmation bias-

Speaker 1: Professionally, like where you see it the most. I mean there's ideas and stuff, but you know, a lot of people are involved in the hiring process and they're looking for, they've made a decision because they have a role that they're trying to fill. And if you're like DG, you're drowning and stuff to do. So you're looking for anybody, a lifeline, anyone to help you. And so that is a sneaky place where confirmation bias will come in pretty quickly. And that's why you want to wait. That's why I've always had, or for a long time now I've had the 24 hour test, where when I interview someone, I don't form, I try hard not to form a positive or negative opinion on them. Instead I give myself 24 hours to sleep on it, to think about it. And then I start to think about what just happened because too quickly, I was running into confirmation bias of like, I like this person. This was interesting. And I just started to ignore all the warning signs. And instead I used confirmation bias to get myself in trouble.

Speaker 2: To the point where I've stopped messaging you, after I interview someone, even if it's somebody you want me to interview, I never text you after and say, Hey, I met with so- and- so. Here's what I think. Always wait to the next day, because I know that your response to me is going to be.

Speaker 1: Sleep on it.

Speaker 2: I don't want to hear your feedback now. You got to sleep on it. I got to sleep on it. And I'll hear from you tomorrow.

Speaker 1: And come on in.

Speaker 2: And oftentimes it changes.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: You think about it, you have a different point of view. It's the same thing, it's the same reason why, if you're stuck on something, you go for a run or you work out or you go for a walk and like your brain just unhooks from that thing and you get the real, you get the clarity and the real answer. I was looking for definitions for confirmation bias before we explained it, and I love this one, which is like, it is more of a description than a definition, but it's when you only legitimize facts that support your point of view.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: Which if we, this podcast is about learning. And so much, we talk about with learning, confirmation bias is such an important piece of understanding that while you're learning. The other thing is it's because our brains have to, I didn't make this up, this is from somewhere. Our brains have to try and process so much stuff. So instead our brain tries to take the shortcut and focuses on what it thinks is the most important. That's confirmation bias.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: Right? Which is your example of me, right? You said I'm busy, I'm doing a lot of things. So I see something that looks good and say, boom, we got it.

Speaker 1: Jump on it.

Speaker 2: Yep.

Speaker 1: All right, so this is a sneaky one. Do you think G2 has a confirmation bias? I'm sure he does.

Speaker 3: Everybody does.

Speaker 2: Yeah, he said everybody does. Yeah, I'm sure. Yeah, for sure. I think it'd be weird if you don't have a confirmation bias. The point is not in us talking about confirmation bias is that it's not a flaw.

Speaker 1: No.

Speaker 2: It's you have to become aware of it.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm(affirmative), so you can control.

Speaker 2: So you can control it and then think about, whoa, am I being biased? Like your thing, you have the rule now, which is like, you wait on it, you wait a day, which basically ensures that you're going to give yourself time to think about it.

Speaker 1: And doesn't mean I'll come up with the perfect answer, but I had to come up with a habit that I could follow in order to try to avoid it. And my simple one was waiting 24 hours or waiting for the day after to sleep on something. You can come up with something else, but you create like a framework or a habit, a framework that leads to a habit that helps you prevent some of these things. And that's, we often reference Charlie Munger, like a lot of these when he talks about the cognitive biases in the psychology of human misjudgment. One of my favorite videos on YouTube, we'll link that up below. When he talks about it, he's talking about it in the context of patterns that he's developed over time to try to not lead himself by one of these biases. So that's why it's important. He's not only talking about them highlighting it, but he's saying, look, I've come up with these frameworks. I've come up with these habits to try to avoid these. And by the way, I still fall into them, but I'm doing the best I can to try to and evolving, to try to not fall into them so often.

Speaker 2: I think it just like, It's a good lesson in learning, right? It means in order to avoid confirmation bias, it means you have to go and seek wisdom, seek knowledge from multiple sources, right? Like we talk about working out or dieting or whatever.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: It's really easy to go and read something that says, okay, I'm busy. I don't have a lot of time. So I want to go read an article that's going to tell me how to get fit working out two days a week.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Speaker 2: That's being a victim of confirmation bias, because I want to believe that.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: Right? And so I'm going to find information. Same thing, like not that we talk politics on this show ever, but it's the reason why you watch two different news channels and you get two different opinions because of confirmation bias. So the point of us in doing this episode is just to become aware of it, make it one of those things that you start to be mindful of and think about as you make decisions.

Speaker 1: Speaking of working out.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Have you finished Total Recall, the book?

Speaker 2: How could I? It's 700. I have a lot. I have a lot. I read it every night. I read it every night for about six minutes, and... I'm tired man.

Speaker 1: You're tired?

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Okay, okay. You have a baby.

Speaker 2: Amazing.

Speaker 1: I was talking to, I ran into someone the other day and I'm blanking on their name, that's no surprise if you know me.

Speaker 2: Don't take it personally.

Speaker 1: And they brought up that they have been reading Total Recall and they were 75% done, now which is probably more than DG over here.

Speaker 2: That is way more.

Speaker 1: Than the nephew here. And we were just going back and forth about all the lessons and you know what they said, it's related to confirmation bias here because what they were telling me was, you know what, I heard you talking about it a lot on the podcast on, on here podcasts, on this here podcast. But you know, I didn't want to read it because I don't like Arnold Schwarzenegger, right? Here comes confirmation bias. Because I didn't like his persona. I didn't like his, the macho persona, his whole thing, you know, the way that you look at them from the outside. So they were using confirmation bias, right? They had formed an opinion about him, not knowing him, not knowing anything about him. Just about the way he carried himself. And they said, I don't like him.

Speaker 2: Yes.

Speaker 1: So they don't like him. So they were looking for more reasons to not like him, but they did the right thing. They picked up the book, they went deeper and you and this person was telling me totally changed their opinion of-

Speaker 2: Of him.

Speaker 1: Of him.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Right? Because they saw the learning, the humility, got to know who this person was, not just the external representation. And they were like, wow, they found a whole new level of respect for this person. And they were so happy that they had read that book.

Speaker 2: That's amazing, because that's everything about confirmation bias. I don't like him.

Speaker 1: Nope.

Speaker 2: Not going to read it.

Speaker 1: Not going to read it.

Speaker 2: Okay.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Speaker 2: That's fine. But now, and you can still decide to not like him.

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: But now that you've read it, you have some facts.

Speaker 1: Some facts.

Speaker 2: To base your opinion on.

Speaker 1: And that's why Charlie Munger says, coming back to my uncle, Charlie Munger, he always says that he does not argue a position for something. He does not have a strong position of something unless he can argue the counter position better than most people. Right, so he will, before he forms an opinion on something and here again, to avoid confirmation bias, he will do all the research he can on the opposite opinion of his and be willing to be able to argue that as eloquently as someone from that side of that position, before he's able to say that he's formed a position on something.

Speaker 2: I love that. Do your homework.

Speaker 1: Do your homework.

Speaker 2: The more you learn, crosstalk.

Speaker 1: Framework. That's his framework for avoiding confirmation bias.

Speaker 2: I love it. So I want to give you, and the reason to wrap this whole thing up, like I think the reason why this is important is to help you learn. But also most of the people who listen to this podcast are in some type of business. I think this stuff, lessons like this, like the social psychology stuff is what's really going to help you grow your business. Because if we rewind it back and shout out to Mike Triano, who told us that great marketers are a students of human response. If you want to be a student of human response, you have to understand how people think and why they think. And I think these cognitive biases, like confirmation bias are the best place you could start. And that's something I wish I knew five, 10 years ago easily.

Speaker 1: Yep. Did I tell you I'm in need?

Speaker 2: What are you in need of? Of reviews?

Speaker 1: Six star reviews. There's been a deep drought.

Speaker 2: There has.

Speaker 1: There has been a drought of six star reviews.

Speaker 2: What's happening? Did they change the algorithm?

Speaker 1: I don't know. I think Apple might be, did they caught on to us?

Speaker 2: They're on to us.

Speaker 1: Are they trying to block us on the six stars?

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: But there's been a deep drought of six star reviews.

Speaker 2: Wow.

Speaker 1: This drought does not affect me.

Speaker 2: No.

Speaker 1: Right, I don't need the six star reviews, but we have people like Gonzo right here, G2.

Speaker 2: They might not affect you, I thrive on the reviews.

Speaker 1: crosstalk We have the young nephew. We have Maggie Crowley bringing fire with the build series.

Speaker 2: Maggie's heating up.

Speaker 1: Heating up. I loved it's crosstalk.

Speaker 2: I'm worried about my job a little bit crosstalk.

Speaker 1: She's bringing fire with some of those interviews she's doing with product leaders. And she threw in a marketing leader from Amplitude and the last one.

Speaker 2: I'm just unnecessary.

Speaker 1: She's been fire, but she's not seeing any six star reviews for her efforts.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Right? So if you love the team, if you love the work that Jay's doing and all the other stuff, you remember, I'm keeping, we have a whole bunch of other series, one around growth, one around growth marketing, one around operations. We have a couple of others that we're working on. We already have back episodes ready crosstalk.

Speaker 2: Gail's going to have a lot of work, I think with crosstalk.

Speaker 1: I've cut them hostage.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Because I haven't seen crosstalk.

Speaker 2: So let's do this, let's do this, let's do this. I had some, you know, being the good prepared host that I am...

Speaker 1: Yes, that's true.

Speaker 2: I have some suggested learning material.

Speaker 1: Oh.

Speaker 2: Okay? To go along with this topic of confirmation bias and I have two books, so maybe we could give away some books for some reviews.

Speaker 1: Yep.

Speaker 2: Okay. So book number one that will teach you all about the way people think, and confirmation bias is a book called Thinking Fast and Alow by Daniel Kahneman.

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah. That's one of my favorites. I've given that to people though.

Speaker 2: It's large.

Speaker 1: It's heavy duty.

Speaker 2: We're talking about the large, the Arnold book, at least that one is easy to read.

Speaker 1: This one is harder to read, crosstalk but this is deep, this is for the scientist out there.

Speaker 2: And then on top of that, I would say more importantly, it's also easier to read is Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Speaker 1: We'll be giving those books away. We'll be choosing people who leave six star reviews, shouting out Maggie, G2, aka Gonz, aka Gonzalo, aka the Venezuelan nephew.

Speaker 2: So leave review, Tweet, leave a review and Tweet at us. Screenshot the review, Tweet at us. @ dcancel, @ davegerhardt and we'll hook you up.

Speaker 1: And you'll be getting a book or both books.

Speaker 2: Or both books.

Speaker 1: All right.

Speaker 2: That's a heavy package.

Speaker 1: All right. See ya.

Speaker 2: We're out here.


On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, DC & DG break down confirmation bias & why it's one of the most common biases that impacts how we make decisions at work and at home (and one of the top 25 Cognitive Biases that we deal with every day; arguably it's the #1 bias we have). Books mentioned on this episode: Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini If you're a fan of the show, we'd love it if you left a six-star rating on Apple Podcasts. And if you leave a review and then take a screenshot and tweet at @dcancel and @davegerhardt, we'll hook you up with copies of the two books mentioned on this show.