Saving Artifacts from Confirmation Bias
Kelly H. Gross
When I started as a consultant to manage the development of a project called The Hidden Codex, I expected that the science and antiquities community would be excited over the prospect of discovering a new genuine cultural artifact. Boy was I wrong. The experts had something else entirely in store for me.
I had just begun to experience what I have now come to know as confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to notice only that which confirms one’s beliefs and to discount contradictory information.
Our artifact, called a codex, had been lying around on museum shelves, largely forgotten until the early eighties when carbon date testing became widely available. The owners, a group of investors in Ohio, submitted some cloth samples for analysis with surprising results. These tests showed that the codex was over 300 years old, created between 1660 and 1710 in Mexico.