LESSONS IN APPLIED LOGIC: Confirmation Bias in Action Infringes on Man’s Civil Rights

Have you ever heard the saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?”  The meaning behind this saying is at the heart of a fallacy known as confirmation bias.  We should all know and understand this fallacy because it leads to many injustices.  This story is just one example:

Man Gives 75 Cents to a Homeless Man. Minutes Later, He Was in Handcuffs in the Back of a Police Cruiser

The citizen in this story had his rights violated – period.  There was no reasonable assumption to warrant the officer’s actions in this case.

Now, I understand that the nature of their job tends to make cops suspicious of everyone who doesn’t wear a badge.  I know because I have been close with law enforcement my whole life.  I have a nationally famous law enforcement officer in my Sunday school class.  So, please, do not try to attack me for abusing law enforcement.  This is not what I am doing.  But the hazards of their job do not excuse police officers when they abuse their authority.  Think about what would happen if our soldiers viewed everyone who was not wearing a U.S. military uniform as an insurgent and acted accordingly.  Well, sadly, this is exactly what has been happening in this country where our law enforcement community is concerned, and I suspect incidents like the one in this story are on the rise.

Now, in this story, the officer just ‘assumed’ there was criminal activity going on and acted on this assumption.  But there was no reasonable cause to do so.  The Left likes to attack law enforcement for profiling.  In some cases, profiling is a legitimate tool.  Until just recently, nearly every terrorist was of Middle Eastern ethnicity, so stopping and searching a white grandmother while letting three Arab men pas through the terminal at the airport without a second look represents a form of willful insanity.  But the Left has a legitimate point when it comes to cases like the one in this story.

Just because an apparent homeless man passed something through the window of a car driven by a white male, it does not mean there was any criminal activity involved.  What is actually more reasonable to assume: that the homeless man is actually being trusted by some pusher to sell his drugs and not use them or keep the money for himself, or that a homeless man was panhandling?  Now, a law enforcement officer may claim the reasonable assumption is criminal activity, but I doubt he would jump out of his car and arrest the homeless guy when he approaches the officer’s car while the officer is off duty – because the officer knows the homeless guy is most likely looking for money.  But, while on duty, the officer has a hammer, so everything looks like a nail.

This is how we ‘find’ so many cases of supposed racism, as well.  People see a stereotype of a certain culture in the movies, on the news and in the papers for so long, when they are finally confronted with a situation that appears to them to be an example of this stereotype, they naturally assume this is what it is.  But, in reality, most times, it is just the clash of different sub cultures within our society.  Yet, we assume because we have been conditioned to assume.  This is why we should learn basic logic.  If we want to think we are different from the animals because we can reason, but we live by instinct instead of applying that reason, then we are fooling ourselves.  But it’s like everything else in life: before we can apply reason, we have to learn the rules.  However, once you learn those rules, and you understand how to apply them, it becomes much, much more difficult to fool or deceive you – which is the primary reason our schools do not teach our children the basics of logic and right reasoning.  The powers that be do not want this nation to know how to think for itself because that would make it much harder – if not impossible – to make them dependent on the government.

[NOTE: confirmation bias – as we see it in the real world – is closely related to the fallacies of hasty conclusion and hasty generalization.]

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