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Confirmation bias is not your friend

Our brains LOVE to connect things that aren't actually related. It's easier to ascribe certain actions to other actions: it's a shorter path. If your internet connection is acting weird and your neighbor just said that their connection is down, the simplest explanation (sometimes referenced as Occam's Razor) is that these are related.

In the world of tech support, confirmation bias makes the job harder. You may believe that the issues you're experiencing are related to other things. A cyberattack in the headlines may lead you to believe your issues are somehow impacted. But your issues may just be a loose cable, too.

It's bet to focus on the facts in front of you by asking a series of simple questions:

  • when was it working last

  • what changed since then

  • can someone else on your team do the same thing (e.g. connect to email or a web page)

  • can someone else on your network get onto the internet

  • has the web site or service you're trying to use acknowledged any outages on their status pages or twitter account

These kinds of simple, measured questions will avoid confirmation bias from sneaking in and getting you to presume things prematurely. If a 911 operator presumes ALL the calls about a fire in the same 10 minute time window are for the same apartment building, they could be missing a completely separate and dangerous fire. They have to focus on the facts and not the presumptions.

Consider doing the same in your troubleshooting or descriptions of any issues.


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