New Standford study on our confirmation bias, and how it extends to almost every medium we humans use:
Aiming to figure out why America is becoming more politically polarized despite traditional beliefs that societies naturally move toward the middle, a group of Stanford researchers considered how our natural biases affect the way we interpret information. What they found is that people tend to view the world through red- or blue-colored glasses: when we see inconclusive information, we intepret it in ways that support our natural political biases and ignore the aspects that don’t. So if you show the exact same piece of inconclusive information to a group of people, it will likely lead to more polarization rather than to general consensus on the meaning.
It turns out, this phenomenon extends beyond clearly biased media such as FOX or MSNBC and into more objective content sources on the web. When the researchers applied their model to online recommendation engines, they found that pieces of content most-relevant to users are “always polarizing,” whereas pieces of information that are merely similar to something someone already likes are only polarizing if the person is already biased. In short: While they’re able to ignore or at least view objectively less-important stuff, even pretty middle-of-the-road people will take a hard stance on stuff that matters to them.