Both xenophobia and confirmation bias are counterproductive in a modern society. Xenophobia is the root of racism, bigotry, homophobia, suspicion of immigrants, and religious intolerance. Confirmation bias makes us susceptible to the spurious arguments of those who seek dominion over us by pandering to these fundamentally conservative traits. Many of the persistent social ills and divisiveness in our society derive directly from these inherent, yet anachronistic, human traits.
What can we do? Well, first we have to understand the origins of xenophobia and confirmation bias and recognize the social ills that flow from them. For some, self-awareness of their own fears and biases is sufficient to render them immune from most political pandering, particularly on social issues.
However, the ultimate coup de grâce to the pandering class can only come from a love of truth stronger than our personal biases. We must subject all claims to fact-based logical reasoning. Listening to a single cable news network, reading one newspaper, or frequenting websites and blogs of a single socio-political orientation, even Liar! Liar!, is inadequate to the task.
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