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Misinformation and Disinformation in Healthcare

Confirmation bias

Something else to keep in mind is the potential for bias in search results.

It is tempting to focus your search on finding something to support your opinion or your argument. This is what we call confirmation bias. Learn more about how to recognize your bias.

Confirmation bias is defined by Britannica as: "the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs."

Instead, your search should be designed in a way that provides you with an unbiased answer, which may mean discovering that your hypothesis or belief is not correct.

Google and Google Scholar both use proprietary algorithms to bring you what they think you want to find. This means that what one person will see in their search results will differ from what another person sees, based on each person's previous searches and clicks.

The Medline database via Pubmed also uses such an algorithm when you use the Best Match feature to display your search results, but the algorithm has been made public so it is more transparent. It is still important to be aware that you may not see all results in an unbiased manner when you use Best Match. Read more about bias in search tools.

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