Process Posts

Biases, and Digital Literacy

Process Post #8

This week, I have decided to explore the ideas of biases and digital literacy that were talked about in week 7. What stood out to me the most from lecture that inclined me to look and reflect deeper was the slide about “Three Particularly Impactful Biases” (Norman, 2021). I was also intrigued about confirmation bias, specifically MySide Bias, as something sparked within me when I heard Suzanne read out the question “Do you see in yourself what you so easily see in others?”. 

With that said, I had a look at this article to find out a little more about what this bias entailed. Essentially, “Myside bias occurs when people evaluate evidence, generate evidence, and test hypotheses in a manner biased toward their own prior opinions and attitudes” (Stanovich, West, & Toplak, 2013). Confirmation bias or MySide bias is exactly what it sounds, it is taking your own “side” and involves favoring information that confirms your previously existing beliefs or biases. 

I think that many of us are victims of this bias as we often automatically believe that what we think, is correct and legitimate. We rarely take alternative ideas or other “sides” into consideration, and we neglect the reflecting and evaluating component of knowledge production and consumption. 

To further this discussion, I believe that the media plays a significant role in this ignorance. Caulfield (2016) reiterates this speculation that I raise when he says “Be skeptical! Bias happens! Social media is not trustworthy!” (para 55). In other words, there are many news articles, other articles, and even fabricated videos that can be forming and creating false information. Bridle (2017) explains that the exploitation encoded into the systems. “make it harder to see, harder to think and explain, harder to counter and defend against” (para 49). Nonetheless, continuing to take what we consume to be true is a form of ignorance; “we live in a world of radical ignorance” (Kenyon, 2016). Instead, Kenyon (2016) promotes “doubt” as it is a “means of establishing a controversy”. Rather than agreeing and running with what we read, it is more beneficial to walk in with doubt, encouraging us to take a closer look. 

These ideas lead me into my next point, digital literacy, and informing younger audiences how to be literate in a digital world. For starters, Caulfield (2016) explains that “we are faced with massive information literacy problems, as shown by the complete inability of students and adults to identify fake stories, misinformation, disinformation, and other forms of spin” (para 7). This was seen during lecture when we did an activity that involved looking at a website to see if it was ‘reputable’. With that, Caufield (2016) warns his readers, and suggests that students should be taught “basic things about the web and the domains they evaluate so that they have some actual tools and knowledge to deal with larger questions effectively” (Caulfield, 2016, para 45). I believe this type of literacy is increasingly important as younger generations are growing up in a digital world, constantly “engrossed in screens” (Bridle, 2017, para. 3). Not having these “toolkits of specific technical resources and tricks is just as likely to pull [us] further away from the truth than towards it” (Caulfield, 2016, para 64). 

Lastly, looking back to the slide impactful biases, I was able to connect to “Digital Amnesia” or “The Google Effect” which is defined by the tendency to “forget information we think we can easily find again – through search engines” (Norman, 2021). I thought about this after lecture and ultimately came to the conclusion that we take technology and the digital world for granted. I was reminded of several moments that I have thought “whatever, I don’t need to remember this, I will look it up again when I need it”. 

I will leave the discussion with this; “while some smart people will profit from all the information now just a click away, many will be misled into a false sense of expertise” (Kenyon, 2016).

References

Bridle, James.  November, 2017. “Something is Wrong on the Internet”

Caulfield, Mike. (December 19, 2016). Yes, Digital Literacy. But which one?

Kenyon, Georgina. (January 9, 2016) The Man who Studies the Spread of Ignorance

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