Samy Ghannad

Stop Trying to Remove Bias

There is something I’m seeing and hearing about a lot lately. People, teams, organizations, “guru"s on social media all are talking about how to remove bias from our decisions.
As with everything that explodes in popularity and becomes the new hot buzz word, a big market has formed around this new trend, from books, to workshops, consultation sessions and other forms of training.
And again, as with any ludicrous market, the sellers try to be heard by shouting louder, paid advertisement, or making questionable claims about the effectiveness of their “method”.

Seeing this shenanigans, I’m left with two questions: First, How are we going to remove bias when we know for a fact that knowing and learning about biases makes one more suspectible to falling into them? But I guess that’s not the question you ask yourself, or want to be asked if you want to the sell something.
Second, I’d like to stop for a moment and ask Why. Why do we want to remove biases? Why do we want to throw away all that power that sees the most subtle patterns and connects the dots?

One may argue that biases are prone to errors, which I would argue back so is everyone and everything else. Every process, law, technology, every single element in human history and civilization is prone to errors, not being perfect isn’t a good enough reason to throw away such a powerful tool.

The alternative is to use biases, these psychological super powers, to our advantage.
A bias is essentially a quick scan of the situation to match the mental models and beliefs in your head.
So instead of throwing it away and strive to be 100% unbiased, maybe we should change our beliefs, and update our models of how the world should be to how it actually works, maybe instead, we should be more positively biased toward our core values, and be open to put them through a thorough falsification process, and change them whenever we find out we were wrong.

What if instead of trying to remove it, we developed the very thing we are looking for, we became a living breathing embodiment of whatever we are searching for more of, and then went outside and let the biases do what they do best?