The Bias of Dream Analysis

In these uncertain times, when the decisions we make have never been more nerve-wracking, and when trust in experts and authorities has been eroded, it's only to be expected that we'll fall back on guidance from the most reliable and rational source: our dreams! Despite the fact that neurologists regard dreams as merely the random firings of our brains, most participants in an international dream study believed that dreams provide both a significant glimpse into our subconscious, and omens of the future.

The only problem is, it turns out we're less than impartial when it comes to interpreting our own dreams, believing what we want and discarding the less appealing messages. The study's subjects, for example, were more likely to take seriously a dream about God telling them to travel the world than one in which the All Mighty commands going to work in a leper colony.

So just to get this straight: People who take instructions from an omniscient, unseen entity who visits them while they sleep are not wholly lucid and discriminating when it comes to sorting the dream information? We probably shouldn't mock it, since dreams can seriously effect people's lives. According to the psychologists who performed the study, dreams "of spousal infidelity may lead to accusations and acrimony that ultimately lead to real infidelity." The world's oldest and greatest excuse for cheating, by the way, whether dreams are involved or not!

What Do Dreams Mean? Whatever Your Bias Says [NYT]