Cognitive Bias is a systematic error in thinking which affects how we process information, distorting our perception and causing us to act irrationally. This bias is rooted in incorrect beliefs about ourselves, others and/or the world which cause us to want Reality to be different than it actually is, hindering our ability to rightly engage the world. This corruption in our minds makes us vulnerable to even more deception, causing more irrational behavior.
To the degree we’re free of Cognitive Bias, the healthier our mind is, the freer we are to think, reason and make good decisions. A sound mind honestly and (therefore more) accurately perceives the world and responds more rationally, coherently, consistently.
The challenge here is that we’re all limited and incomplete in our understanding (1Co 8:2); we’re unable to focus on everything we perceive all at once, and our world is also extremely complex, very difficult to interpret optimally. So, God has ingeniously designed our minds to focus our attention on what’s important, to categorize and generalize our perceptions based on past experience in order to simplify this complexity. We learn to develop mental shortcuts based on what we already know to help us efficiently process new information and make important decisions in real time — otherwise we couldn’t function well. This is God’s design, and might look like Cognitive Bias, but it’s different.
Cognitive Bias is when our internal agenda, what we want Reality to be like, causes us to deal dishonestly with the facts, to apply different rules of evaluation, different standards depending on the situation, in order to protect our own distorted version of Reality. It reflects a fundamentally dishonest worldview, a tendency to love deception rather than the truth. (Jn 3:19)
Cognitive Bias is the root cause of a reprobate mind (Ro 1:28), a corrupt mind (2Ti 3:8), a carnal mind (Ro 8:7); it’s a condition we build into ourselves over time which cripples our ability to understand and obey the truth.
The danger in Cognitive Bias is that what we believe about our world impacts what we can actually perceive about it; believing lies distorts our perception so we can no longer even see the truth. When we neglect to align ourselves with the Reality in front of us, we blind ourselves; this is self-deception, the worst kind of deception. (Ja 1:22) Yet it’s how we all start out (Ti 3:3), and it’s the natural state of most everyone we know. The masses of humanity are unaware, deluded, passively content in the darkness, thoughtlessly traveling the wide road to destruction. (Mt 7:13-14)
A sound mind isn’t actually very common; it’s the precious gift of God. (2Ti 1:7)
To deliver ourselves from Cognitive Bias and develop a sounder, healthier mind, while working within the limitations of our current mental framework, we must determine to love the truth and pursue it at all costs. (Pr 23:23) We must acknowledge that we very likely still have biases which cause us to react irrationally and be on the lookout for them, even inviting others to point out any hint of inconsistency in our behavior. This is the path to freedom. (Jn 8:32)
The key is to start paying attention (Ps 119:9), training ourselves to notice and carefully observe more of what is going on around us, and also within us, and train more of our focus on that part of Reality which appears anomalous, contrary to our world view, opposing our beliefs and presuppositions — our bias. We must be on the lookout for signs that we’re misinterpreting Reality.
When we notice an irrational response, a desire to believe a certain way which appears to be inconsistent with Reality, reactions which don’t align with the facts in front of us, we must ask God for repentance, to open our eyes to see and believe the truth, and deliver ourselves from the snare of deception. (2Ti 2:25-26)