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By Wan Yusof Wan Jeffery comment 0 Comments access_time 3 min read

I was standing in the middle of the heated debate.

On my left side was the government, on my right side was the opposition.

The debate was so intense that I had no chance to voice out my stand. It was always the government or the opposition who eagerly and passionately delivered their opinions.

Interestingly I spotted a trend.

Whatever the government said, the opposition will go against it. And the same thing happened, whatever the opposition said, the government will go against it.

So it was a never-ending debate. We were nowhere and we were going no where.

That was the story number 1.

Story number 2.

There were two brothers, Salles and Munir who ran a local clothing store.

Salleh was in charge of sales and Munir led the tailoring department.

Whenever Salleh saw a customer who really like to buy the cloth, he became a little hard of hearing. So when a customer asked him,

“How much is this?”

He would shout to his brother,

“Munir, how much is this cloth?”

Munir then would look up from his cutting table and shout back,

“Empat puluh dua ringgit” – this RM 42 was completely inflated price

Salleh then pretend he had not understood. So he shouted again,

“How much?”

Munir yelled again

“RM 42”

Salleh turned to his customer and reported,

“He says Rm 22”

At this point the customer would have quickly put the money on the table and hastened from the store with cloth as he afraid that Salleh noticed ‘his mistake

That was the end of story number 2.

Now let me put everything together.

The first story was all about confirming bias. Confirming bias is a tendency of the mind to seek or find any evidences that would support one’s arguement. For example, if I say Pizza Hut has the Pizza in the town, I will look for evidence that will support my statement.

And to make things worse, I will ignore or deny any evidence that go against my statement!

I am sure you have heard of the Golden Rule of A Good Employee:

Rule 1: The boss is always right

Rule 2: If you disagree with the boss, remember rule no 1

These rules clearly show how confirming bias play its role in our lives. It is dangerous, it is not good, yet it is happening!

The second story was about The Contrast Effect. We judge something to be beautiful, expensive of large if we have something ugly, cheap or small in front of us. In other words we have difficulty with absolute judgement.

We cannot tell something is good or bad if we cannot compare. It makes sense right.

And this is why we are easily influenced and manipulated by the advertising agency. If you want to buy a car they will give you a choice.

The first choice is always the basic. Then you can have an intermediate one with few add-ons. And the third one is the advanced one where you can have the leather seat, the gps, the most advanced technology and so on and so forth.

And they purposely created 3 choices so that you can see the contrast or differences.

And do you know what are you going to do next?

You will APPLY the confirming bias!

You will make a choice and now you have the evidences to support you choice. I chose the third choice because it has the leather seats, the latest gps, the most advanced technology in automobile. My choice is justifiable.

To conclude, I hope I have demonstrated clearly enough how our minds can be tricked and exploited. How do we prevent this kind of exploitation? See you in the next meeting.


This speech had been presented during Magical Tanah Merah Toastmasters meeting on 10/8/15.

confirmation bias confirming bias toasmaster

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