Confirmation Bias and Why You Should Read the Manual

April 10 2017, 11:02pm

One of the problems with becoming better at something is the inherent risk of skipping over little details with new tools that otherwise might be important to consider. Case in point is a handheld drill I purchased recently to help with a few carpentry projects.

I remember quickly opening up the box, pulling out the manual, then quickly looking over the main schematic to see how to operate it.

Black & Decker LD120VA Drill

Charger goes here. Okay.

This is the button to control the drill. Got it.

I toggle this piece to lock and control the direction of the drill—makes sense.

Cool! I'm ready.

Three broken drill bits and a few delays later, I mistakingly realize that I had been using the drill incorrectly.

Instead of having the drill go in the forward direction, I had it moving in the reverse direction from the start. This resulted in drill bits that would only go into the wood halfway, even with a lot of pressure applied to them.

After realizing my error, finishing this frame was a breeze.

Air Plant Art

As a basic primer, according to the Oxford dictionary, confirmation bias is "the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories."

It's so easy to fall into confirmation bias, especially when we think we know better.

Especially when things don't seem right, take the time to sit back and think solidly about what might be wrong. It might just be that you read the manual incorrectly.

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? What happened?

PS: The drill and bits I got work well! It's the Black & Decker LD120VA Drill and 15557 Drill Bit Set for all those interested.