BY NIGEL BEAN
I came off twitter after three years just after the general election in June. I had made the mistake of thinking all I need do is blog the truth on hunting then tweet this information into the timelines of the anti-hunt brigade. Sanity would surely prevail. The antis will then surely see the error of their ways and come around to my way of thinking. After all, I had read all their data submitted to the Government inquiry back in 2000, I knew their argument like the back of my hand and the flaws it was constructed upon.
What point is there in trying to convert maniacal absolutists?
It wasn’t too long before I was switching from blogging on hunting to blogging on the profile of anti-hunters. It was like meeting an alien life force to whom truth meant little. I had inadvertently introduced myself to confirmation bias, a trait I had never encountered before anywhere else in my life.
Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.
This unsavoury trait went against the important lessons in life my father had taught me, one of which was never look a gift horse in the mouth, the other to remain open-minded. That was his posh way of saying – keep your wits about you, Nigel. It’s because of my father’s words that this one-time Labour-supporting, anti-hunting fellow now writes as a conservative in support of hunting.
I have learnt that – for fundamentalist types – confirmation bias is a very useful failsafe. Never read information that may conflict or colour your own world view. I have lost count the number of times anti-hunters would say, I started reading that rubbish and only made the halfway point in the first paragraph, it was abysmal. Interestingly every time I asked what they didn’t like, the answer was the same, it’s just rubbish.
I was soon to learn about the false consensus effect, the need to feel everyone supports your view. You can forget reality and objective truth – they play no part in these people’s lives. Their truth is an opinion they have formed through their imagination – this makes them highly susceptible to manipulation by unscrupulous individuals or groups, namely the Labour party and animal rights groups.
In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others (i.e., that others also think the same way that they do).
Once their version of truth is installed in their grey matter and opinion cemented, the antis simply repeat over and over until enough people accept what they say as fact. They then conduct opinion polls deliberately twisted in favour of their opinion to get the result they want. And how right they now seem – as the majority support their view and if the majority are in favour of their version of truth (however skewed) then it must be the truth.
I am left with three options – continue the truthful campaign I have been fighting, switch to deceitful tactics like my opponents or walk away.
In spite of leaving Twitter, I do genuinely believe that the Web is my friend. That the web allows members of the UK public to learn the objective truth about all aspects of hunting. This is kryptonite against the antis.
I shall never give up. Nor allow diminished hope.