What Does Your Gut Say, Or, On the Role of Confirmation Bias

Cogito Ergo Scribo
6 min readSep 6
an artist rendering of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

We all do it. We all fall victim.

My sister thinks my dad has Alzheimer’s. She’s certain of it. Every little flub, every little mistake, every faux paus, every time he forgets some small detail, is confirmation to her that our father is failing.

He leaves his garage door open. He parks his car half-in and half-out.

She’s certain he forgot about Thanksgiving last year because he didn’t ask her what time he should show up, and just showed up instead, and this instance is absolute and undeniable proof that he forgot Thanksgiving was Thanksgiving, even though they had talked about it with one another earlier in the week.

He doesn’t return her phone calls.

Granted, my father admits he has had moments where he forgets what he is doing. The most recent, he was at the grocery store, walking up and down aisles, and he temporarily forgot where he was and what he was doing.

It came back to him in 30 seconds or so.

This is not good.

But, my father is 75 years old.

He’s widowed.

He’s been alone for nearly 10 years.

This isn’t good for your memory either.

He has suffered life-long from depression. He takes medication for his depression.

This isn’t good for your memory either.

My father golfs multiple times a week. One of his episodes happened on the golf course. He hit his ball from the tee, a nice shot down the center of the fairway. As he approached his ball for shot number two, he forgot where he was and what he was doing, just for a few moments. It soon dawned on him where he was and what he was doing and he continued with his round of golf.

He failed a memory test at his yearly physical with his GP.

This isn’t good, but by the same token, if my dad is not interested in something, he doesn’t pay attention.

Cogito Ergo Scribo