Monday, November 23, 2015

Confirmation Bias Under Temporary Permanence

tom rogers
Me (left) with Tom Rogers, Old Town Cemetery, San Diego, CA
This morning I woke up to realize that Sash and I are no longer motorcycle vagabonds, at least for the time being. The lifestyle of moving across the country whenever, and wherever it pleased us, has dropped us with a solid "thump" in downtown San Diego, CA.

I know this because a few weeks ago we signed a one-year lease on an apartment.

But it wasn't until this morning, when I rode my motorcycle to Phoenix, that it felt different. That is, riding my motorcycle across state lines doesn't feel like running away when I have a landlord and a contract waiting for me.

A few days ago, however, we were visited by Tom Rogers. Tom is a motorcycle vagabond. He doesn't have a blog however, and he doesn't post much about it on his Facebook. There's something kinda cool about being so humble. Not needing the approval or confirmation from others is a sign of strength. I don't normally tell strangers that I ride a motorcycle, nor even tell them about my tales of riding across the country, although obviously I do write about it here.

The fact that Tom would seek us out in our new confines is interesting to me. It comes just as when Sash and I have hung up our wandering boots for the cyclical routines of domiciliary motion. It makes me wonder, however, if a vagabond is always a vagabond. Did I spend my younger years as a wanderer in domestic's clothing? Is it possible to be temporarily permanent? His visiting us is like a confirmation for me.

Philosophers have insisted that "we see what we want to see", or that, "we attract what we are".

In science, they call this confirmation bias.

That is, we tend to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms our beliefs, while at the same time shutting out alternative ideas. It's why someone who believes in ghosts ends up seeing one, why someone who believes in aliens ends up abducted by them, and even why a woman born to white parents ends up identifying as black.

I guess it's because Sash and I had identified ourselves as motorcycle gypsies that we saw many of them and hung out with them. Some are still wandering on the road, Stephanie Yue, Joe Sparrow, Kevin Bean're. But some are also on temporary permanence like Tad and Gaila. There are also those who I have yet to meet like Ara Gureghian and Scooter Tramp Scotty. There are others that Sash have met that I haven't.

Perhaps the same is true with Tom Rogers; he stopped to see us along his interstate meander because his mind wants to see the same severance from everyday convention as ours. He likes being with people who follow the same path.

Or maybe he just identifies with people who have boring names like mine.

Confirmation bias keeps us from losing our sanity. There's just too much going on around us, and too many ways of looking at something, that we have to pick a path and follow it. Like-minded people such as Tom, Stephanie, Joe, et al, are like guide posts that keep me in my lane, even when I'm temporarily out of it.


  1. It must have been slightly scary to sign a one year lease after wandering so long. Let's hope it works out just the way you need it to.

  2. I just discovered your blog and I have enjoyed posts like this. The solitude of a long ride out admiring the wonders of nature readily lends itself to contemplating the big questions....good stuff.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)